In 2015, Texas advertising and media photographer Jeremy Enlow was given exclusive access to the prestigious reverse-DDD brand cow camp operations on the historic Waggoner Ranch. When Jeremy visited, he encountered 26 cowboys working with just their ropes and horses. “The cowboys, some whom have worked on the ranch for over 40 years, don’t have computers or four wheelers,” Enlow says. “They cowboy the way it was done 50-75 years ago. I wanted to document this way of life for younger generations before it disappears.” Traveling to the ranch from April-July 2015, Jeremy captured more than 14,000 images. By November, he self-published the award-winning book Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. The first run of books sold out in 10 days.
Now on it’s third run, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch has won numerous awards, including the Next Generation Indie Publishers 2016 award in Historical Non-Fiction. Throughout the process of photographing and self-publishing his inaugural book, Enlow has learned a great about the publishing process. Below are his tips for authors and photographers looking to self-publish.
Top 3 Tips for Self-Publishing Authors
- Don’t skimp on quality. Seek out the best in the industry to help you. Start at the top and work your way down.
- Go with your gut and don’t second guess. Everyone will want to give you advice. Some will be good and some will turn out to be terrible. At the end of the day it’s your book… Surround yourself with industry professionals and your chances of success will go up.
- Set hard deadlines and meet them. Otherwise you will always be fine tuning a book and it will never hit the press.
Self-publishing a book, especially your first book, can be a daunting process. Jeremy dove in, bringing the book to market a mere 8 months after his first day on the ranch. To date, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch has sold over 4,000 copies in 48 states and numerous countries. The book is printed in North Texas, and since Jeremy also self-distributed the book, the majority of sales take place at waggonercowboys.com. Jeremy attributes much of the book’s success to the power of marketing.
The Power of Marketing
“I was most surprised by the power of marketing,” says Jeremy. “You can produce the best book in the world, but if you don’t enlist marketing experts, the book will never sell. On the flip side you have to give the marketing folks a decent product to pitch.” For an unknown author, good marketing can make or break a book’s success. However, it’s important to understand the role of your marketing professionals. Some will specialize in traditional media (print, TV, and web) while others specialize in social media. Leveraging both can lead to great growth. Furthermore, it’s important to remember the limitations of what marketing professionals can do. “[T]he job of your marketing person is simply to get you in front of the TV camera or reporter. It’s the author’s job to be passionate about the book and give dynamic quotes,” says Jeremy.
Hiring quality marketing professionals can be an expensive line-item in your publishing budget, but it can also be the difference between hanging onto boxes of books for years or selling out quickly. Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch leverages strong social media channels to drive sales on the book’s website, cutting out expensive distributor fees and commissions.
Ready, Set, Publish
Talking to authors, artists, and photographers considering self-publishing their own book, Jeremy recommends building a strong team of industry professionals and not wasting too much time perfecting the end product. For those looking for more hands-on guidance throughout the self-publishing process, Jeremy also offers consulting services. “I’ve also been approached by other authors to help them get their book published. We have managed to create a system that not only sells books, but allows the author to keep a much higher percentage of books sales.” To discuss your project, contact Jeremy using the button below.