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Wed 16 Mar 2016 09:49 AM

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Published author: The new business card

The newly-appointed Curator of Culture and People at Careem and the founder of The Growing Leaders Foundation, Sallyann Della Casa, offers a practical guide to understanding the process and business of being an author after publishing her first book “Who Will I Become”

Published author: The new business card
Du employees teaching the Growing Leaders Foundation programme at a local school of Dubai government.

Take a second and think about the number of business cards you throw out annually. Let’s jump to books. When was the last time you threw a book out?

In the content addicted society we live in, we often grant cult status to authors who generously allow us access to their experiences and wisdom, teach us industry secrets and guide us using their mistakes as a roadmap.

Being a published author opens up the door to profitable business opportunities, such as becoming a global speaker, launching a profitable and visible on-line platform and enhancing one’s credibility as an industry expert.

So why have you not yet published your own book?

Consider this if you need some convincing:

You no longer need an agent or one of the big publishing houses to get your books out to a global readership. All you need is a killer Book Shepherd, i.e. an industry insider who walks you through the entire book publishing process for a small fee, an Amazon Advantage and a Souq account so that your book can be purchased on-line and a bookstore distribution agreement with a global giant such as Consortium gives the entire world access to your books in all forms.

Sallyann Della Cassa training the workforce of DP World, DLA Piper, All Futtaim and Nestle to teach her programmes at Hult University as part of the Dubai Chamber’s Give and Gain Day.

You do not need an elaborate marketing plan with a costly PR agency. The right social media platform which you should have been building for at least six to twelve months leading up to the publishing of your book should contain highly engaged early adopters who buy your book.

Through their book purchases and reviews, you gain the social proof needed that you have something of value to offer the world.

Also get familiar with the vast number of social media tools out there. Aliza Licht’s Make Your Mark caught the eye of 8.4 milion people and got a No. 1 ranking on Amazon because of her Thunderclap campaign.

You do not need to invest a lot of money. You can crowdfund your book like Amanda Palmer, who raised over $1 million for her art book project, or Seth Godin, who raised over $200,000 for his self published book.

Or you can use your savings and print books on demand or go straight to e-books solutions. Small high quality print runs (1,000 to 2,500 copies) for a 200-page traditional novel can be a little as $2.00 per book and higher end coffee table/design books can run you approx. $5.00 per book in China.

Self/Vanity publishing is no longer seen as “degrading and unprofessional” in the publishing world unless you have been living under a rock.  Most authors now choose a combination of self published, traditionally published and Indie published books, such as Guy Kawasaki, who documented the process brilliantly in his book called APE which stands for Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur, Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, and the list goes on.


Most well-known traditional publishing houses only work through book agents. Book agents guide you through the entire contracting, editing and publication process for a fee of 15 percent of your income.

The publisher covers the majority of the costs to publish and distribute the work. You get 10 percent to 15 percent of the gross sales after one or two years. This route is best for those just wanting to do the work of writing a brilliant book as a profession.

This route gives you the maximum credibility but does not guarantee that you will sell many books, make tons of money or make any best sellers list. But your work will exist amongst the million + books published yearly.


Traditional publishing in the Middle East is not the same as the US.

There are not many seasoned  book agents in the Middle East but that is changing with the spotlight being put on the craft through book fairs with one of the most prestigious in the region being the Emirates Literary Festival.

Publication houses in the Middle East often deal directly with authors. They work with authors for about six to twelve months on editing and re-editing a completed standard 200-page manuscript.

The same income structure and publishing wait time applies as with the US publishing houses. However many Middle Eastern publishing houses do not have international distribution channels. Make sure and ask the question and and reserve your foreign rights to distribute your book.

Clearly from a business point of view, the traditional publishing route makes no business sense. This probably explains why the entire publishing industry has been under disruption for the past few years since many authors publish books as a means to another end.

It is a fact that only 10 percent of published books ever sell more than 500 copies while 70 percent of books do not ever make a profit.

A book is not really considered an international success unless it has sold over 10,000 copies. And many authors buy their way onto bestseller lists (approx. 3,500 books are sold in the “right week”).


A work written by you is automatically copyrighted and owned by you the moment you put it down on paper.

However, in order to protect yourself further in the event of potential litigation relating to disputed content, you may choose to register your works with the Library of Congress in the US and/or the British Library which does give you an upper hand with regard to litigation.

These are done through simple mailings; however, visit the websites for clear instructions.

So let’s say I have convinced you to write that book inside of you or get a ghost writer, who costs on average $35,000 for a 200-page traditional format book, to do it with you.

Here are some tips that really worked for me as a first time author:

I wrote specifically to an intended audience. First, I created the book I wanted the eight to 12-year-old still within me and all of us (you know the ones who the world has not yet influenced and bullied into who it wants us to be) to read.

As a result of my razor sharp focus on who was my reader not only do I have classrooms of over 500 schools incorporating my book into their daily leadership lessons, but my adult audience, who are mostly women and/or parents, are raving fans since I touch a very pure place in each of them.

Your book has to speak to someone specific. Taking from a core B-School principle, if your product  speaks to everybody, you are speaking to nobody.

I wrote within my area of powers, curiosity and passions. Powers are things we are naturally good at and do better than most. Passions are things that make us feel good and we wish we could do all the time often losing track of time. Our curiosities are the doorway to opening up our creativity and imagination.

If you can use this framework as a value system for the subject matter of your book, you will not only engage your readers but your book will flow effortlessly.

Powers, curiosity and passions jump out at us from the pages on any book.

I leveraged material I already had in different forms. I blog consistently. I also produce and record a bi-weekly content on creativity, building a business and leadership – Braindates with Sallyann – for my YouTube channel.

I also design and produce about fifty plus leadership lesson plans and business lectures in my role as the Lead Tree Shaker of my Growing Leaders Foundation.

It is no surprise that my first book is about leadership and my second about leadership and building a life and business from the inside out. The content of my books leverage materials I am constantly in contact with in some form. And I am not alone.

Oprah’s latest book consist of her thoughts on compilations of other books and poems she and her team loved. Maria Shriver’s book Ten Things I Wish I had Known was from a gradutation speech she did several years back. The successful Humans of New York book  by Brandon Stanton are his Facebook imagery and stories.

So have I sparked your brain and given you enough info to go for it?

I hope so and I can truly say I look forward to receiving your book the first time we meet, as I hand you mine!

About Sallyann Della Casa:

As the Lead Tree Shaker and Founder of The Growing Leaders Foundation and author of “Who Will I Become”, Sallyann Della Casa was not looking for a job but her blog content caught the attention of the founders of Careem - “generous” in Arabic.

Della Casa joined them as Curator of Culture and People this month.

She will be case studying her work at Careem as she aims to make them the No. 1 place that develops the leadership potential of their employees who will all become a part of a legendary corporate culture in the region.

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