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December 1, 2016
By Drucilla Shultz
Indie author Jeremy Enlow urges self-publishers to focus on quality work and hitting deadlines.

For five months in 2015, photographer Jeremy Enlow was granted rare access to Waggoner Ranch in Texas, the largest ranch in the United States. The result was Enlow’s self-published hardcover coffee table book, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch, which Publishers Weekly called a  “handsome collection” and “beautifully depicted.”

“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 to 75 years ago. I wanted to document this way of life for younger generations before it disappears.”

Enlow says his goal for the book was just to break even: “This was the first book I’ve published, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. When that first run of 1,500 books was being unloaded in my studio, I looked at my wife and said, ‘My gosh we are going to be giving away books for Christmas gifts the next 20 years.’ I was speechless when all those books sold out in 10 days.”

Enlow was most surprised by the power of marketing. He engaged the services of two marketing professionals: one dealt with traditional television, print, and web media, while the other handled with social media.

“You can produce the best book in the world, but if you don’t enlist marketing experts, the book will never sell,” he says. “On the flip side you have to give the marketing folks a decent product to pitch.”

He adds: “You can’t sit idle after the book is published and expect it to fly off the shelves…Whatever time and money you expect to spend on actually producing your book, double that for marketing.”

We asked Enlow to share some tips for aspiring indie authors:

Quality Matters

“Don’t skimp on quality. Seek out the best in the industry to help you. Start at the top and work your way down... I wanted to create a book the cowboys would be proud of and people would display on their coffee table. We printed on the best paper we could find and had full color on every page.”

Don’t Second Guess Yourself

“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, so go with your gut and don’t second guess. Surround yourself with industry professionals and your chances of success will go up.”

Deadlines Matter

"From the very first photo shoot to the printed book in hand it took us less than eight months. Set hard deadlines and meet them. Otherwise you will always be fine-tuning a book and it will never hit the press.”