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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

How to Submit Your Book to a Holiday Gift Guide

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Think your book would make a great Christmas gift? Being featured in a holiday gift guide could give your book sales a nice year-end bump. But you have to think ahead.

Though December is five months away, summer is the time to start planning your gift guide strategy. Use July to research the places you want to be listed, then begin your pitching in August or September, paying attention to the deadline each outlet provides.

The following guest post from Corinne Liccketto of Smith Publicity offers more information.

5 Tips for Submitting Your Book to a Holiday Gift Guide

by Corinne Liccketto, Smith Publicity

If you’re interested in having your book placed in holiday gift guides, late August to early September is the time to pitch. If you wait too long, you’ll miss your chance.

Here are five tips for submitting your book to holiday gift guides:

  1. Know your desired outlets and their submission guidelines. List the outlets for which you’re most interested in securing coverage and determine their submission guidelines. In most cases, along with a copy of your book, you’ll want to send a personalized cover letter, book release and author bio. Make sure you follow the guidelines! Editors won’t waste time digging up needed information on their own.
  2. Know when to pitch. Deadlines are crucial. Pitch too early and your book will be forgotten; pitch too late and you won’t even be considered. Armed with your list, research the deadline dates of your most desired outlets. Magazines will likely need submissions by August (early September at the latest), whereas newspapers may require submission only two months before the holiday season. Don’t pitch every outlet at once because it’s easier for you that way. Respect the media’s deadline dates or you run the risk of annoying editors and ruining your chance at inclusion.
  3. Donate a portion of your holiday sales to charity. Not only is giving back the right thing to do, but by donating a portion of your proceeds to charity you increase the appeal of your product. Media contacts can plug the cause your product benefits, giving the charity extra coverage too. It’s win-win.
  4. Position your book as a ‘great gift under $30′. Or $20. Or $15. Whatever the price of your book, use it as a hook when you submit for consideration. By encouraging awareness of the cost of your book, you might inspire the editor to include your book in a featured section of the holiday gift guide.
  5. Give a reason why your book is different than others. Does your book recap a hot trend of 2010? Is it eco-friendly? Telling editors why your book is different from others will give it an edge.

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Corinne Liccketto is the Sales Manager at Smith Publicity, Inc., one of the world’s leading promotional firms, specializing in book publicity. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, the company has worked with over 900 individuals and companies, from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and businesses representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international with offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, and London.

Authors, Grab This Free Book Marketing Resource

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Have a book you want to promote? A tool from author Jenny Blake just might be your new best friend.

Here’s how Blake describes it:

When I was getting ready to launch my own book, Life After College, I knew I needed a way to track the hundreds of book promotion action items and ideas floating around in my head — everything from website development to book tour planning to advance copy recipient lists, so I created a 15-tab master spreadsheet as a way of organizing the hundreds of things an author thinks about on the road to book launch.

This is one amazing resource — and it’s free. You can download a copy of the Book Marketing Spreadsheet from Blake’s website.

Seth Godin on Publishing, Books and Sharable Ideas

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Seth GodinPublishing Perspectives posted a fascinating interview with Seth Godin about The Domino Project, the company Godin started after announcing he would no longer issue his books through a traditional publisher. The first book that Domino released was Godin’s Poke The Box.

The complete interview is well worth a read. Below, I’ve highlighted a couple of choice excerpts that might get you thinking about how you write your book.

“So what I’m thinking about when I write a book like Poke the Box is not “How do I write this for the person who will be easy for me to sell it to?” but “How do I write it so once that person reads it, they’re likely to give it to someone else?” And that second order sale, that idea that books are actually manifestos organized to spread, really changes the way you think about writing a book.”

“…my chapters are now down to 2-pages long, or 3-pages long, and the reason is that’s the way we have trained people to think. We think clearly at a different rate than we did 80 or 90 years ago.

No one buys a book anymore if they don’t know what the book is about, if they don’t know what the idea in the book is before they even got it. And so what that requires authors to do is figure how to make their ideas spread so that they get a chance to hammer those ideas home in book form.”

Godin takes a lot of flak for producing books that others don’t consider worthy of the name — books that are small and short, with miniscule chapters or no chapters at all. And yet his sales are through the roof, outstripping, as Godin notes in the interview, even New York Times bestsellers.

Godin focuses on making his ideas sharable: succinct, easily explained, easily accessible. If you started with sharing as your focus, what might you do with your information?

Best Posts on Book Publishing Options

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Publishing a book is easier now than it’s ever been—but it’s still not easy. So many options, so many variables. How do you choose?

To help, we’ve pulled together some of our best and most popular posts about publishing options.

You might also want to grab a free copy of The Author’s Guide to Publishing Options. Take the 10-question quiz inside and see where it points you.

And if there’s a burning question you still can’t find the answer to, you can always pop a note into the question box.

Best Posts
Let’s start with a review of the three main publishing models: royalty (traditional) publishing, self-publishing and subsidy publishing.

Amazon has recently made big moves into publishing. Amazon is a royalty publisher but with some definite advantages over the usual model.

Is one publishing model better than the other? These posts give food for thought.

Barry Eisler Reveals Details of Amazon Publishing Deal

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Barry EislerRemember Barry Eisler? He’s the bestselling thriller author who in March turned down a $500,000 deal with St. Martin’s Press in favor of self-publishing.

Last week, at Book Expo America, Eisler announced he’d just signed a deal for Amazon to publish his next book. The traditional publishing crowd sniffed their disapproval over his perceived turncoat behavior.

But as Eisler points out, the point wasn’t to self-publish. The point was to get the terms he wanted. Along came Amazon offering those terms, so he took them. In Eisler’s words:

“…it’s the terms that are important to me, not the means by which I achieve them. If these terms are a destination, self-publishing is undeniably an excellent vehicle for getting there. But it isn’t the only vehicle. And if another vehicle comes along that offers all these terms, plus a substantial advance, plus a retail wing that can reach millions of customers in my demographic… then, as a non-ideological businessman, I’m going to change rides.”

In a recent conversation with fellow author Joe Konrath, Eisler revealed some of the details that drew him to sign with Amazon:

  • An advance “comparable” to that offered by St. Martin’s
  • “Much better” digital royalties (one source says 70%)
  • “Comparable” print royalties
  • A three-month turnaround from submission to release
  • Full control over the title and cover art
  • No DRM on the e-book
  • E-book released first, followed by paper

This deal shows that Amazon, as a publisher, is poised to cause major industry disruption, coming to market much faster and sharing royalties more equitably than traditional publishers, while bringing huge distribution and marketing muscle. Great news for authors, not so great for the old guard publishers.

The full conversation between Eisler & Konrath is a tremendously long but fascinating perspective on the current publishing industry and the changes that are occurring.

Amazon’s Publishing Program Picks Up Steam

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

AmazonEncoreAll of you know Amazon as a seller of books. What you may not have heard outside of book circles is that Amazon is moving into publisher territory. Over the past two years, it has launched several imprints. Three announcements have come in quick succession this month, showing that Amazon’s publishing program is picking up steam. All signs indicate the company is just getting started.

Amazon’s publishing debut came in May 2009, when it launched AmazonEncore and announced its first title, a previously self-published fantasy novel by 16-year-old Cayla Kluver. According to Jeff Belle, Vice President of Books for Amazon, the purpose of AmazonEncore was “to connect readers with great books that were overlooked the first time they were released.”

In May 2010, the company added AmazonCrossing, an imprint for translated works. Just as with AmazonEncore, Amazon announced its intention to monitor sales data to select the books it wanted to publish. Says Belle, “Our international customers have made us aware of exciting established and emerging voices from other cultures and countries that have not been translated for English-language readers.”
AmazonCrossing
This past month, Amazon unveiled two genre imprints: Montlake for romance titles and Thomas & Mercer for mysteries and thrillers.

Now comes news that Amazon has hired Larry Kirshbaum, former CEO of the Time-Warner Book Group, to “assemble an editorial team that will develop and manage new Amazon imprints ‘with a focus on acquiring the highest quality books in literary and commercial fiction, YA, business and general non-fiction.’”

The careers page for Amazon Publishing currently shows 10 open positions ranging from Senior Acquisitions Editor to Publicity Manager. Very clearly, Amazon intends to continue developing imprints beyond the ones already launched, and it’s heartening to see business and non-fiction being specifically mentioned since so much of the current focus is on fiction.

What does all this mean for you as a non-fiction author?

To date, Amazon has not accepted manuscript submissions, instead using the power of its retail algorithms to cherry-pick existing books that are popular with readers but have so far not received widespread recognition or distribution. I can’t imagine its approach will change anytime soon. To open its doors to general submissions would flood the company with unimaginable numbers of unvetted manuscripts. Amazon’s retail data is its advantage over traditional publishers, who must assess manuscripts on gut instinct and best guess forecasts.

That means you won’t be able to actively pitch your book for Amazon to pick up. It does mean, however, that if you’re promoting your self-published book effectively, getting lots of positive reader feedback and achieving decent sales numbers, the Amazon eye might fall on you.

So far, there’s been very little available information about the terms Amazon offers as a publisher, so it’s unclear how an Amazon contract might stack up against a deal from a traditional publisher. More favorable? About the same? (If anyone knows details, please leave a comment.) Amazon’s press releases promise authors “marketing support and distribution into multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, Audible.com, and national and independent bookstores via third-party wholesalers.”

Definitely a development to watch.

Selling One Thing Really Well

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Author Andrew Kessler in front of his bookstore

Last month, New York-based author Andrew Kessler opened a bookstore, as in, a store with one book — his own.

“The store is part marketing ploy, to be sure (Mr. Kessler is a creative director at an advertising agency), but also part meditation on the meaning of the book in an age of e-readers and a bankrupt Borders.”

Now that’s what we call specialization.

Working with a Ghostwriter

Friday, May 6th, 2011

ghostWriting a book manuscript can feel like a Herculean task. Luckily, there are a variety of options for getting your wisdom into print. One of these options is working with a ghostwriter.

Maybe you you don’t enjoy writing, you’re not particularly good at it, or it takes you a long time (when you could be focusing on other things you actually are good at). If any of these things are true, you are a good candidate for working with a ghostwriter.

A ghostwriter takes your ideas and puts them into words on a page. The ideas are still yours — you remain the author of the work — but the actual mechanics of writing are outsourced to a professional.

A ghostwriter typically interviews you to collect the things you want to say. As he does so, he’ll be listening for your voice or style of expression so he can reflect this in the writing. If you have a quirky sense of humor or a precise way of speaking, these things can shine through in your book; a good ghostwriter will make sure they do.

A ghostwriter is called a ghost because he’s invisible. Unless specifically negotiated, the ghostwriter will receive no author credit anywhere on the book.

Ghostwriting is an intensive process for both you and the writer. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll hand off the topic and wake up to a finished manuscript two months later. It usually takes hours and hours of interviews and collaboration to get all of the information that’s in your head into the writer’s hands. Be sure to set aside plenty of time to work with the writer.

Also be sure to have a solid written contract in place before beginning any work with a ghostwriter. A contract will typically include the following:

  • detailed description of the scope of services to be provided
  • statement of the fees and payment schedule
  • timeline for the work to be completed, including any project milestones
  • assignment of copyright in the work to you
  • statement that you are not required to credit the ghostwriter in the book

A ghostwriter should develop all the major pieces of your book, including the preface, appendices, glossary and so on if these elements are to be included.

At the end of the project, ask the ghostwriter to provide a few possible titles and sub-titles for your book. The writer will be intimately familiar with the work and should be able to provide some good suggestions that reflect the book’s content. You may or may not end up using any of the titles, but at the very least they could spark further brainstorming.

In non-fiction, hiring a ghostwriter isn’t cheating. It’s often a smart strategy that will let you and a professional writer each focus on what you do best. It can get you a completed manuscript faster and more efficiently than what you could do on your own — and that’s one big step closer to getting your ideas out into the world.

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You’ll find more advice on developing a book manuscript inside From Idea to Author, a step-by-step guide to self-publishing your non-fiction book.

How to Build Success into Your Non-Fiction Book

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

construction sign

On the self-publishing journey, there’s the production of your book and there’s the marketing of your book. Two separate things, right?

Nope!

How you create your book will have an impact on your marketing efforts. If you miss an important registration detail, fail to follow an industry norm or make it difficult for readers to find you, your marketing becomes that much more difficult.

While producing a great book doesn’t automatically guarantee sales success, a book with sloppy production values is hobbled right out of the gate. Here are some tips for building success into your book from the beginning.

Spend time on the title
Coming up with a great title isn’t easy, but it’s worth working on. Too many first-time authors try cramming a 25-word synopsis of their book into the title. They end up with titles that are insufferably long, hard to understand and impossible to remember. Yawn. Titles are usually very short, sometimes just one or two catchy words. The subtitle then picks up the job of describing the book in a bit more detail—but still use only five to eight words or so.

Hire a professional designer
People really do judge a book by its cover, even when it’s just a thumbnail. Whether people are browsing a shelf at their local bookstore or clicking through Amazon.com, whether they spy a copy of your book on a friend’s coffee table or reach your website from a tweet, the first they’ll see of your book is the cover. So much rests on the image your cover conveys that it’s foolish to risk a poor impression. Hire an experienced professional to design it. Can’t afford it? You can’t afford not to.

Register your book
Every book needs an ISBN. (Without one, you can’t even sell through Amazon.) Also register your book with your national library, whether that’s the Library of Congress or the National Library of Canada, and invest in having Cataloguing-in-Publication data created. These registrations ensure your book looks professional and is discoverable.

Remember the formula: If p, then e
Despite what you may read, print books aren’t in danger of disappearing anytime soon. Plus, print books still work best as gifts or client premiums; having something tangible to hand out is crucial to making the right impression. So it makes sense, most of the time, to plan on a print edition. Just don’t overlook e-books altogether. It’s so easy and inexpensive to spin off an electronic edition from print files that it should be an automatic part of every author’s publishing process. The more ways people can access your book, the greater the chance of a sale.

Edit your book well
Editing is last on the list, not because it’s least important, but because it supports everything else. You can have an outstanding title, a kick-ass cover and multiple available formats, but if people read your book and find the content stinks, you won’t go far.

  • Fill your non-fiction book with helpful information, not promotional copy. People don’t want to pay money to read a long brochure.
  • Keep it tight. If you can tell readers how to solve a problem in 200 pages instead of 300 pages, do it. If you can explain the topic in 100 pages, consider a shorter format, like a Kindle Single. Avoid padding just to hit a page count.
  • Watch your stale date. A book is no small project so it’s best to create a product you can sell for years to come. As much as you can, avoid information that changes frequently. Instead, focus on timeless principles and point people to your website for information that needs regular updating.
  • Hire a professional editor. In fact, hire a couple. At Highspot, we employ up to four different editors on each book because we know that fresh eyes at every stage of the process—from developmental editing through copyediting and printer’s proofs—help us catch more mistakes.

When self-publishing, it pays to think about your book like a traditional publisher: how can you get the best return on your investment? In a hypercompetitive market, give your book a fighting chance with top-notch production values, then market it as the great product you know it be.

Would You Turn Down a $500,000 Book Deal?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

The blogosphere has been buzzing in the last month with news of two high-profile authors and their publishing choices.

On the one hand:
Barry Eisler, a bestselling thriller author, just turned down a $500,000 deal with his traditional publisher, opting to self-publish his next book instead.

On the other hand:
Amanda Hocking, an author who’s already made millions selling her self-published novels, has chosen to sign with a traditional publisher for a $2-million contract.

What gives? One successful author turns down a lucrative deal with an established house in order to self-publish, while a successful self-published author chooses to sign up with an established house. These seem like opposite strategies.

But both Eisler and Hocking have their well-considered reasons.

Hocking says it’s not about the money for her.

“Let’s be honest – if I self-published the Watersong series on my own, I could probably make $2 million within a year or two. Five years tops. I am fully aware that I stand a chance of losing money on this deal compared to what I could make self-publishing.”

Instead, Hocking’s looking for distribution muscle and mainstream exposure.

“Having large distribution is part of the reason why I wanted a deal, and part of that is having books in stores… I am getting an increasing number of emails from people who go into bookstores to buy my books for themselves or friends or family members, and not only does Barnes & Noble not carry my book, they can’t even order it for them. People are requesting my books, and they can’t get them.”

“I want to be a household name. I want to be the impulse buy that people make when they’re waiting in an airport because they know my name.”

Eisler feels ‘legacy publishers’ are out to lunch when it comes to the digital revolution. He wants the freedom to publish faster, charge what he considers optimum prices for e-books ($.99 to $4.99) and keep more of the revenue.

“I just don’t want to be part of an industry that doesn’t make sense, that’s fighting change rather than taking advantage of it. I want to make money by giving readers what they want, not by seeking ways to deny it to them.”

Hocking wants print books in bookstores. Eisler wants to focus on e-books.

Eisler says authors are leaving money on the table. Hocking says she doesn’t care about the money.

So who’s right?

They both are. Publishing with a traditional house has its benefits and its drawbacks. Same with self-publishing. One isn’t awful while the other is virtuous. It comes down to knowing what you want from your book and your writing career, having a realistic understanding of what each publishing route can offer, and choosing the one best suited to your goals.

Need help deciding? Try the 10-question quiz in our free Author’s Guide to Publishing Options. We profile both royalty publishing and self-publishing, along with the potentially tricky subsidy publishing model, laying out the pros and cons of each.