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Four tips on self-publishing your passion

18 Sep 2017

In the business world there are endless niches of expertise that can make a real difference when shared with receptive audiences. But in the modern world of blogs, webinars and YouTube series, how can you best go about publishing your passion on your terms?

Yasemen Kaner-White, IoD 99 member and self-published author of Lemon Compendium, spent two years intricately compiling the many facets of her new-found passion into a definitive guide.

From an intrigue that began when researching uses for the abundance of produce from her cousin’s lemon grove whilst living in Cyprus, Yasemen began to unravel more and more practical applications and historical origins around the citrus that unifies nearly every country in the world.

Her end goal wasn’t a podcast or a blog series, but a hardback coffee table book revealing the plethora of uses for all things lemony. So how do you go about getting your passion on the bookshelves? Yasemen shares some of the insights from her journey from print to publishing:

1 – Who do you know?

“Don’t ignore the quid pro quo options.” Yasemen art-directed the book herself, but had some help from a professional photographer contact that she’d met previously.

“In exchange for helping him out with some marketing work, I asked him about doing some quid pro quo on the artistic aspects of the book, along with some photography. Through him, I was also introduced to photography students who were happy to donate a couple of hours too.

“That’s one specific example though. If you’re publishing a cook book, do you know a chef who can test out your recipes? Ask for favours, ask your friends for help.”

2 – Freeing up funds

“If I were doing this again now,” says Yasemen, “I might try and find a partnership to help support things financially. I would look for someone who sells lemons, a lemon-based product, or maybe someone involved with the world’s largest lemon festival in Menton, France.

“Fortunately, when I first moved back to England, I discovered The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme, which offers grants or loans to entrepreneurs under 30 years old. They had never sponsored a book before, but I made my case with them and was able to secure a loan for roughly half the printing costs.

“Because I was working on the book for two years before publishing, I had all these amazing photographs before the book came out. So being fairly entrepreneurial, I thought ‘how can I monetise this?’  The Christmas before the publication, I made a beautiful wall calendar using the book’s images, went to Chelsea Town Hall and flogged them. One woman wanted ten, so that was £100 right there!”

3 – Promoting: You know your product better than anyone

“When it comes to selling, unless you’re Jamie Oliver and you have a manager, publishers won’t necessarily push your book. In my head I’d built up this idea that with a publisher, they’ll be the ones stood outside in the cold, selling your book for you. But they aren’t.

“Even a publisher won’t sell your product as well as you can yourself. They won’t have the passion you have, they won’t know it inside out, and they won’t have all the anecdotes behind it. So try and look out for areas that your subject fits in to. If you’re writing about boats, pitch an event nearby yacht clubs, for example.

“No one is going to knock on the door and ask for a book, unless they know about it. So you need to stay confident and consider every avenue. I’ve done all the marketing for Lemon Compendium, literally like Del Boy, knocking on doors with a suitcase of books!”

4 – Stay true to what’s important to you

“What was important to me was to have a design-led, hardback coffee table book, and I used to walk past Waterstones thinking ‘one day my book will be in there.’ I always say, ‘use what you’ve got’, so one day I went into my local shop with a copy of my book and they could see that I’d spared no expense in the production – hardback, gold print, glossy photography, with two years of care and attention spent on its creation.

“But equally, if you envisage a different medium for your work then there are other avenues you can explore. You can release on paperback, you can publish online, you can use e-commerce sites like Amazon. Look for different avenues that complement your product.”

Yasemen Kaner White posing with basket of lemons and a copy of her book Lemon CompendiumYasemen Kaner-White is a freelance journalist and author of Lemon Compendium. She has hosted TV and radio programmes in Cyprus and the United Kingdom, incorporating her love of travel and cuisine for BBC Berkshire, and is the editor of Fifth Chukker Polo magazine.

Copies of her book can be found here:

Yasemen is also a member of the IoD’s dynamic community of entrepreneurs and start-up founders, the IoD 99

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