Anytime you’re writing nonfiction, it’s nice if you know a lot more about your topic than your audience does. That isn’t usually a problem—most of us write what we know. But how do you know your audience will get the point? And how do you avoid explaining too much and losing their attention? There’s a fine line between clarity and condescension—but you need to know where it is.
The best way to be sure that you haven’t over- or underexplained your topic is to find a couple of members of your target audience and have them read the part of your work in question. After they’ve read it, ask them a few questions—how long did it take? Did they ever lose interest or get lost? Is there any part that needs more explanation? Ask them to explain the concept back to you, then rework the piece to correct any problems.
This method is almost foolproof. But unfortunately, often a deadline doesn’t allow for focus groups and three rounds of revisions. When that’s the case, you still need to make sure your point is clear. Read the piece over yourself and imagine you have the same level of knowledge as your audience. Look at these specific areas:
Are there passages with heavy use of buzzwords or specialized vocabulary? Try to break up or rephrase them. Even readers familiar with the material can get lost in too much specialized language, and one misunderstanding on what the particular word of the moment means can unravel your entire argument for that reader.
Take a sample paragraph completely out of context and read through it. Does it still make sense? Is it clear why this information is being presented? If not, revise it, and do a few more spot-checks on other paragraphs. Readers who get lost need to be able to find firm ground to stand on soon after to help them work out what they don’t understand, and an argument that depends on immediate knowledge of pages and pages of information isn’t going to get your point across.
If the argument is complicated, try to keep your prose simple. There’s no reason to complicate it more with involved language. If you’re making a particularly crucial point, rephrase it or give an example of what you mean in the sentence immediately following to reinforce it.
To avoid sounding condescending, don’t define words or terms more than once. Give the explanation, then reinforce the meaning by using the word in context soon after and using synonyms in the surrounding text if you haven’t used it for a while. Repeat your key principles, but keep your reader engaged by using different words or making the key point a sort of “punchline” at the end of an example. The idea is to present the same information with enough variation that a reader who got it the first time won’t be bored, but a reader who didn’t has another chance to catch on. As a test, read the piece yourself. Do you find yourself skipping over certain passages? Condense them.
Finally, there’s really no substitute for a fresh pair of eyes. If you can’t get a member of your audience or a real live editor, ask someone you trust to tell you the truth. (This should not be Microsoft Word’s spellcheck function.) Don’t get upset if your pages come back covered in suggestions. You don’t have to take them all—you just have to think about them. Your reader stopped to tell you she had a problem. In the interests of clarity and respect for your audience, you owe your piece a second look.
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Naming your baby can be a hard thing to do. Parents argue for months about what to call their newborn; some parents want to continue a tradition and name the child after themselves, others simply want to know what three names will sound best together shouted across a busy toy store. The analogy of book to baby is common, and naming that book can be just as difficult as naming the baby. So unless you want your book to get shoved into lockers and beaten up on the playground every day, here are some important titling rules.
- Rule #1: Go beyond basic. You could call your book about accounting for small businesses Accounting for Small Businesses, or you could show a little flair. Give it a hook. Try it out as a question, a command, or statement. For instance, the above book sounds (a little) better as Balance Your Books in 15 Minutes: A Guide for Small Businesses. Say something interesting and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
- Rule #2: Don't let it get too long. You have exactly eight seconds to grab a reader’s attention, and if your title is too confusing or cluttered, they will immediately move on. Boil your book down to a few words or phrases that sum up its contents. Say just enough to pull the reader in, and then stop.
- Rule #3: Make sure your title truly reflects the content of your book. If your title is Fishing in the Mountains, and it’s really all about getting good car insurance, you’re (obviously) going to attract the wrong kind of people. And all those people wondering how to buy car insurance will be forever left in the dark.
- Rule #4: Visualize the title on your ideal cover. The title will be a big component of the book’s exterior design, and your set of words needs to look good up in front. Mentally place your title on a proposed cover and see if it fits. Come up with a few fonts it would look good in. And finally:
- Rule #5: Draw inspiration from successful titles in your genre. Just like any parent, you want to believe that your book is smarter, faster, prettier, and cooler than all the other books, but it doesn’t hurt to see what’s worked for other top sellers in your category. At the same time, you don’t want your title to be a pale reflection of past hits; aim for a genre-appropriate title with a twist.
So when you’re ready to give your book a name, just think of how your own name has influenced your development, how it sums up the ineffable essence of you. Do your book a favor and grace it with a great name that will help it sell; don’t let your little baby get picked on by other, bigger books by giving it a title that’s the literary equivalent of “Norbert.”
Think you've already got a great one picked out? Put it to the test with Lulu's clever but scientifically dubious Title Scorer challenge.
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Book publishing is a lot of things, but an exact science it is not. In fact, it’s an educated guess at best. So what do you do when you finally get down to deciding the hard numbers of how many books you need for an initial print run? First day sales for Bill Clinton’s My Life exceeded 400,000, prompting the publisher to print 725,000 more copies beyond the initial 1.5 million printed. So does that mean that all books on famous people will have instant success? Hardly. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2005, the book Brad & Jen: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Golden Couple, shockingly or not, sold a meager 4,000 copies. There is no magic answer, but there are factors to take in account when making your decision.
Direct sales: You don’t have to be famous to draw a crowd. If you’re a public speaker with a lot of engagements, a decent following, and a large potential for back-of-room sales, assume that you can inspire at least half of those people to buy a copy of the book from you. Popular websites that already generate a fair amount of traffic can act as advertising space and give your existing audience instant access to the book. Also, never discount the number of people who you know directly (i.e., clients, colleagues, family, and friends).
Price per unit: There is one aspect of exact science in publishing that you can hold on to. As print quantities increase, price per unit decreases. It’s a good idea at the beginning of the project to get three print quotes, so that you can see what numbers work best for the price you are paying.
Timeline for reprints: Make sure to factor in time for reprints to reprint. For U.S. printers, the time frame is about 8-12 weeks; for overseas printing, you’re looking at 3-4 months. If demand is high enough that you need to reprint, then you definitely don’t want to run out and miss sales.
Marketing: Books unfortunately do not sell themselves, but when authors actively market their books, it creates demand. When there is increased demand, you want to have the supply to meet it.
Co-ops: Co-op is the intensely coveted space in bookstores—endcap displays, front of house, and forward facing books on shelves. This space is expensive and hard to get, but if you’re one of the lucky ones to get these highly visible spots, then buyers will often pull in large quantities of your book to fill the space.
Distribution: If you’ve got a quality distributor and want national distribution with the major retailers and independent bookstores, then you’re going to need more copies available than if you were going for strictly regional, online, or direct sale distribution.
Size of audience: If you’re writing a ground-breaking book on how to reverse global warming, then you’re audience is going to be a lot larger than if you were writing a book about knitting sweaters for kittens. If you’re writing to a niche audience, you might want to be more conservative in your estimates.
Storage cost: When books are not on the shelves, they have to be somewhere. Where you don’t want a lot of them is in a storage facility collecting dust as you are being charged per month, per book. A realistic print run in the beginning can save you a lot in future storage costs.
When considering the number of books to print, it doesn’t require that you err on the side of being conservative or liberal with your estimates, but you do want to stick closely to reality. You want to make the most money you can early in the life of your book when marketing efforts work and demand is at its peak. It’s impossible to predict audience demands, trends, and the overall success of the book, but an educated guess beats any shot in the dark.
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Sending a book to press is a lot like putting together the perfect outfit for a big event. Every piece of the ensemble must work together and complement each other nicely, and it's the little details that make it really dynamite. If you want to be the hottest, baddest lady in the room, er, book on the shelf, think about these final touches before you head out to strut your stuff:
Headbands (those little strips of fabric at the top and bottom of the spine): I've been accused of being a purist, and it's true that I often prefer my headbands to be solid, neutral colors and to do what they are meant to--cover the glue that holds the binding together. But sometimes it's appropriate--or just plain fun--to jazz up the headbands with stripes or an accent color.
TIP: Fancy headbands rarely cost more than white or black ones, so feel free to be adventurous.
Case Covering (paper or cloth that covers the cardboard front and back covers and spine): Neutral colors are usually best for the case covering. Black, white, creme, and blue are safe bets. Consider the colors on the cover and determine whether you want the case to match or to contrast with the jacket's dominant color.
TIP: If you plan to match the case cover with the jacket, remember to choose the case cover color first. Color options are more limited for case covers than they are for jackets, so it's easier to match a jacket to case cover than vice versa.
Endsheets (inside front cover and facing page, and the inside back cover and facing page): A paper other than white or creme for endsheets can really make a book look finished. Black endsheets immediately add gravitas, bright accent colors from the cover ensure design continuity, and embossing endsheets with texture can create a polished look. Sometimes the best option is to use the same paper for the endsheets as for the case. Printed endsheets are great if you want to match a specific color or present a unique pattern or image. Of course--here's the purist again--there are times when the perfect endsheet is white or creme—the same color as your pages.
TIP: Don't forget to consider how the jacket flaps will contrast with the endsheets.
Spine Stamp (foil stamp on the spine of the case): The spine stamp is usually the last decision a designer makes before sending a project to press. It's the extra blot of lip gloss, the last swipe of bronzer on the cheeks. Choose a foil that will contrast nicely with the chosen case covering. (My favorite case so far is white with bright magenta foil on the spine. Not appropriate for your general business book, but for girly relationship handbooks it's perfect!)
TIP: Small type that can be printed perfectly on the jacket may bleed when it's presented in a foil stamp on a textured case. If you're not sure, ask your printer.
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Q: What’s the newest and fastest growing microblogging phenomenon to hit the Internet in the past year?
Simple in concept and design, Twitter allows you to send twitters, or messages, to all of the twitterers following your account. It’s an online global community that asks its users to answer one question—“What are you doing?”—in 140 characters or less. But it can also be a great asset when launching your book media tour.
Twitter combines blogging, text messaging, and instant messaging on a platform that allows you to send real-time messages to thousands of people worldwide.
Why not send messages about your upcoming TV or radio interviews? You can twitter about the release of your book, your website, or what you had for lunch. Twitters are not necessarily sent to elicit response, but to let the world know what you are doing at the exact moment you are doing it.
After winning the top award at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March, Twitter saw an increase of 50,000 users in one day. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter is steadily growing at a rate of 20 percent a week.
2008 presidential candidate John Edwards twitters about his campaign travels, and according to the New York Times, may have been the first major candidate to make a policy clarification on a social medium. Presidential campaign managers have realized the impact and reach of social media; take their lead and make it work for you and your book.
Give Twitter a test drive and check out TwitterVision. TwitterVision shows your up-to-the-minute twitters from around the world and pinpoints their origins. Be one of the first authors to twitter about your book tour by signing up for a free account at Twitter.com.
In the next social media guide: It’s time to hop on the bandwagon and join the millions of people who have taken advantage of two little social phenomena know as MySpace and Facebook. You may have heard of them.
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Planned Television Arts, the nation’s largest and oldest book promoter, celebrated their 45th anniversary last month, and in honor of reaching this milestone, we are pleased to offer on their behalf 45 free tips on what authors need to know about getting published, promoted, and distributed. If you have further questions, please contact PTA’s Chief Marketing Officer, Brian Feinblum, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to visit their website and download The Million-Dollar Rolodex, a great publishing resource, at no cost. You can also sign up for their free e-newsletter at the site. And now, the tips.
1. Time: You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to generate publicity, but you need a lot of time. And your time is best served writing and growing your business—not tracking down media contact lists, making lots of calls, and trying to learn who to reach, how to reach them, and then what to say once you finally get hold of them. Use a publicist—it’ll save you time and a lot of headaches.
2. Affordability: They say never gamble or invest money you can’t afford to part with. The same is true with PR. Don’t dip into a college fund, retirement account or take a loan on the house to pay for publicity. Think of PR and publishing as an experiment. It’s certainly worth trying—just don’t bet the farm on it.
3. Goals: Determine what your goals are and explore how publicity will help you achieve them. For instance, you need more than a radio tour if the goal is to be a bestseller, but you don’t have to be on national TV to sell books, build your brand, create a media resume, get a positive message out there, or to increase website traffic.
4. Control Your Ego: The worst reason to do PR is pure ego. Additionally, some people simply expect their book will be an instant bestseller and be featured on The Today Show. Instead, you should do PR because you have a useful book and a positive message that deserves exposure. The rest will flow from there. Be optimistic, but contain your expectations.
5. Have a Good Book on a Timely Topic with Good Credentials: Know your competition and determine why you offer something truly new, different, unique, or better. The consumer and the media don’t need more of the same—they need a fresh voice and perspective.
6. You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover, Layout and Title: The media is like anyone else: They look at surface and make quick judgments. Your title should be one that’s short and easy to say. Don’t use insider terms that only hold significance for a few. The subtitle should clearly explain what the book is about. As for the layout design of the contents, no one will read small print, hold cheap paper, or stare at dull chunks of text in books that just don’t feel inviting. The media also likes a cover that draws them in. Appearance counts!
7. Endorsements Only Mean Something if You Don’t Have Them: You should get testimonials from fellow experts and authors on the topic you write on. Go after recognizable names, organizations, schools, etc. Professors, heads of corporations or non-profits, politicians, and celebrities are all fair game. Once you get them, do not be under the impression that this alone ensures sales. But be aware that the media and consumer will notice if no one or only small names endorse the book.
8. Timing is Key: The merits of your book speak for themselves, but if you can also link your book to a story the media would find more interesting and relevant, do so. If it’s a parenting book, link it to the first day of school, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. If it’s a hot topic like politics, link to the upcoming elections, the war in Iraq, or July 4th. Or maybe your book ties into an anniversary of an event or lines up with an honored day-week-month such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Literacy Day, etc.
9. Road Tours: The use of road tours is still popular, but many people substitute or supplement road tours (physically traveling to other cities) with tours they can do from one location, such as a radio tour by phone, a local TV tour by satellite, or an e-marketing campaign online. It’s a waste of time in most cases for authors to purposely hit the road for a 10-city tour. But if you already plan to be in various cities because of business, seminars, or family matters, you can seek out piggyback media, where a publicist gets you media in the cities you are in. Just don’t hit the road solely for a book tour with no events or connections to those cities.
10. Hire a Firm, Not a Publicist: PTA is unique in that our performance is tied into our fees. We offer specialized campaigns that are customized to fit the needs, goals and budgets of authors. When a publicist is willing to be invested in the project (not necessarily to get paid based on book sales, but to get compensated based on the number and types of media placements secured), only then will you have a partner in synch with your objectives. Further, a larger firm typically has more depth of knowledge, skills, resources, tools, and media relationships than one-person operations. Though some of these small entities are very devoted and hardworking, they are often stretched to the limits. They spend more time trying to bring in business than executing it and have no support to fall back on. A firm, on the other hand, has many people who can step in and assist in a campaign.
11. Watch for Ridiculous Promises: Avoid the publicist who says he has an "in" at Oprah. She only covers a few dozen books a year in the course of doing a few hundred shows annually. 175,000 books have been published in the last twelve months. You figure out the odds. That isn’t to say you can’t be on Oprah—just don’t put too much stock in empty promises about being her next guest.
12. Money is Not the Sole Deciding Factor: When comparing publicity firms, don't let cost be the deciding factor. Sure, have a budget in mind—or some sense of a rate of return on your investment—but you should consider the key factors: What is being promised as opposed to being guaranteed? What is the length of campaign? Has the firm promoted many authors in your genre? Is it a one-person shop or a larger firm with more resources and media contacts?
13. Know Who’s Working on Your Campaign: The person who is doing your outreach is very important. Find out who will actually be conducting your campaign. It usually is not the person who is trying to bring you in as a client, and shouldn’t be. A good client manager will stay involved, but the day-to-day media booking is reserved for experienced specialists.
14. Get Good Counseling: Part of selecting a publicist means finding a knowledgeable advisor, someone who not only generates media exposure for you but who also can coach you for the news media. He or she should also provide valuable guidance and advice on all things pertaining to marketing and promoting your book, taking both a short-term and long-term approach.
15. Press Kit Writing is Important: Your publicist should write a press kit and generate creative press releases. Typical elements include a press release, biography, Q&A, book excerpts, story angles, side bar material, related statistics/facts, and other materials that will get the media’s attention, help summarize your book for conducting interviews, and go beyond what’s in the book.
16. Get Familiar with Books in Your Field: When interviewing a potential publicist for your book, ask if they have represented books like yours and if you can see some of the placements they got. Ask for references.
17. Get to Know Bookstores Within Thirty Minutes of You: Make friends with your local bookseller(s). They can influence potential customers.
18. Study the Media: If you have no media experience, watch and listen to interview programs and critically examine what good interviewees do and how they get across their message. You will want to balance your publicity efforts—the goal is to get exposure in all media: radio, print, television, and the Internet. Secure local coverage first and then spread out to national media.
19. Learn by Listening to Yourself: It's amazing how many people have never seen or heard themselves on tape. Practice your interview skills on videotape and audiotape as a friend questions you. When conducting an interview, your answers should not be longer than thirty seconds. Practice narrowing your comments and message down to smaller sound bites. Always say the interviewer’s name back to them when doing an interview—it sounds personal and friendly.
20. Give Yourself Online Presence: Before you even create a website for your book, reserve your personal name and misspelling of your name as a domain name. Then reserve at least ten potential titles for your book (think of having a series of books). You can reserve names inexpensively at www.rickscheapdomains.com. Remember to build your list of faithful fans and have an online newsletter. One way to build your list is to circulate your newsletter or blog through friends and family to their lists of friends and family. Another way is to circulate a freebie—something you give away for free that is of value to others—which can serve as your best advertisement and keep them coming to your site. The free item can be an ebook, an audio speech, or a teleseminar. For your website, set up a shopping cart system and a mailing list system. CornerstoneCart.com is a great site to help you set this up.
21. Do Teleseminars: Tape them every week or every other week. You can check out www.plannedtvarts.com for over 50 hours of free teleseminars. Re-purpose those teleseminars into ebooks or traditional books.
22. Go to as Many Publishing Seminars as You Can: You will not only learn from the speakers, but from fellow attendees. A good one is the Mega Marketing Publishing seminar put on by Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul series. It’s happening May 31st.
23. Attend Book Expo!: You should attend BEA (the first week of June in New York City this year). It’s the publishing event of the year, where thousands of publishers, authors, literary agents, editors, distributors, and other members of the publishing community gather. Visitwww.bookexpoamerica.com for more information.
24. Consult the Gurus: Read publishing expert Dan Poynter’s material. Publishers Weekly is the book world’s Bible. Read it! Keep up with the publishing industry at Publishers Lunch. Think about subscribing to Publishers Marketplace and consult John Kremer at www.BookMarket.com.
25. Network with the Pros: Join Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) or the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN) and learn from a group of authors like yourself. Visit Bestseller University as well.
26. Budget Money or Time: Though you don’t have to hire a PR firm, you do need to set a budget aside to invest in PR. This budget consists either of your money (if you hire help) or your time (if you do it alone). PR will pay off with book sales, prestige, a boost in your career, and possible future book deals. You should always be branding!
27. Build Up Your Media Resume: Don’t expect national TV until you do some local media or gather press clippings. You must build up experience before you can even begin to think about major media. But you have to start somewhere, and the Internet, radio, and local media are great places to begin.
28. Book Reviews are Not So Important: Book reviews can be effective, but they are not always the most effective type of exposure. Broad coverage in other parts of the paper—like in op-eds and byline pieces—attracts a bigger readership and has the potential for greater exposure. If you have a diet book, for instance, getting into the health section of your paper is more targeted than being lost in the book section. Plus, book reviews are much harder to come by these days, given limited book review space and reviewers’ biases against self-published authors or small publishers.
29. 15 Seconds of Fame: Know how to summarize your book in fifteen seconds. That’s how long you have to convince someone your book is worth looking at. Whether it’s a consumer, member of the media, bookstore manager, or organization that you want to speak before, be concise. You need a sentence or two to summarize your credentials, three bullet points of what’s in the book, and a reason why people should care. Blabbering on won’t sell it—being concise, creative, and timely will. Writing a 250-page book is not as hard as reducing all of that to a 15-second sound bite, but that’s exactly what you need to do when promoting and marketing your book. When you meet a stranger or want to explain to a friend what your book is about, you need to do it in a quick and interesting way. By the end of your description, they should want to buy it or ask more questions.
30. Timing is Important: A key to promoting yourself is to do it with great timing. If you want to be featured in a magazine, you have to send a galley of your book three to four months in advance of the book’s official publication. If you want to visit a city and get local media coverage, it helps to call them about 4 weeks ahead of your arrival. Once a book has been out for 3-4 months it is deemed “old” by most media.
31. Create Your Own Virtual World: Creating a new blog, podcast, or teleseminar is easy and effective. Check out the audio and video resources for authors here. Your book is a tool to drive people to your website, and having audio when they get there is a huge plus. Get an Audio Generator. Have a shopping cart and mailing list system. You should also have a way to capture their e-mail address with an "ethical bribe" and then send them newsletters. Once you get them in your "funnel,” you can sell them more books, e-books, CDs, teleseminars, seminars, and any other services you might offer.
32. Traditional Publishing: When considering your options for publishing, realize that if you want a mainstream publisher to publish your book, you’ll need to first get an agent. To get an agent, who takes 15% of your lifetime earnings for that book, you can consult The Literary Marketplace for a list of agents that represent your type of book. This process—finding an agent and a publisher and then seeing the book finally get into print—could easily be 18 months to two years from start to finish.
33. Print-On-Demand: You can also go POD (print-on-demand) with companies like iUniverse<. They charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars to up to a thousand to get your manuscript set up and printed as a book. Copies are printed one at a time, based on actual orders. You will likely keep about 50-60% of the book’s cover price in this format, though authors generally sell fewer books with POD as opposed to traditional or self-publishing.
34. Self-Publish: If you don’t want to use traditional publishing or POD, you can self-publish and print the book on your own. You’ll lay some money out, but you will get to keep all of the money from the sale of each book, as opposed to earning a smaller royalty when someone else publishes your work. However, it helps to get a distributor—a middleman who will sell the book into bookstores and libraries—which usually costs you about 25-30% of the net proceeds. A list of distributors can be found in the Literary Market Place.
35. Killer PR!: One look at the headlines and you’ll see that, unfortunately, the best way to make the news is to commit a crime. So how do you compete with murder and mayhem, as well as celebrities, weather, sports, terrorism, and the latest Hollywood blockbuster? The first way to get media coverage is to tie your book’s message to stories that are making news. Can you comment on the latest court case or media tragedy? Do you know anything about Anna Nicole Smith? If you’re an expert on paternity, celebrities, law, marriage, or self-destruction, you can get media coverage discussing some aspect of her life or death—even if your book never discusses the case.
36. Predict the News: You don’t have to be Sylvia Browne to anticipate the news. Check your calendar for upcoming holidays. Memorial Day means war, security, international relations, death, history, etc. Father’s Day means dads, grandfathers, parenting, family, etc. Can you speak on those topics? How about the seasons? Summer brings stories about travel, camp, droughts, picnics, West Nile, baseball, etc. Think of how your message ties into a holiday, a season, or an honorary day, week, or month (e.g., February is Black History Month, March is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, April is National Autism Month).
37. Create Your Own News: Make news with the results of your research, surveys, interviews with important people, or the uncovering of hidden facts. Even if your book lacks original earth-shattering discoveries, perhaps you can create a poll of 500 people on your subject and report those results. If you can shed light on the newest treatments for a disease or effective parenting strategies or tell us the three smartest ways to save for retirement, people will listen.
38. Keep It New: An old book is only promotable when it becomes new again. Revise and update your book if it’s older than six months and you want to hire a publicist. Or even better—build on the book and create a sequel
39. Raise an Issue or Ask a Question: Declare something interesting or controversial. Should pets be allowed to sue for health care? Should we eliminate the presidency and instead have three co-presidents? Should there be a legal limit on how much someone can weigh? Should people who have cosmetic surgery be forced to disclose this to the people they date? Tactics such as these are great attention-grabbers.
40. Don’t Give Out the CliffsNotes: When you tell someone about your book, the goal isn't to provide them with CliffsNotes for your project. You don't want them to know about everything in the book, only something that will tease them, whet their appetite, make them drool for more. Less is more. Also look at the vocabulary you use. Move from the functional to the descriptive. Load up your verbal diet with adjectives and use verbs that have some sound effects. Don't merely say your book is about how to invest money in the stock market; it’s really about how to use the same proven strategies and loopholes rich people use to turn hard-earned money into bigger pots of gold. With this book, you’ll retire early! See the difference? Finally, always give an analogy or metaphor, something people can instantly relate to. Make it funny, timely, or eye-opening. Use your words wisely and always remember that when it comes to PR, style trumps substance.
41. Word of Mouth: It’s what sells books, so get the word out early and often. Tell everyone you know and everyone you meet about your book. Initially, you’ll need a grassroots campaign. Where appropriate, speak before any group that will have you—a church or temple, a college, a library, a bookstore, an association, a book club… anyone! Partner with others to cross-promote each other’s book, service, or product.
42. Find an Internet Guru: Learn from people who have made a ton of money on the Internet. Check out Tom Antion’s Internet Marketing Training Materials Package.
43. Get a Knowledgeable, Experienced Publicist: Get a publicist who has a track record of success, familiarity, and interest in your genre of expertise. This person should share your vision and see beyond the book. Conducting a PR campaign has a bigger potential payoff vs. one-time advertising. Ads rarely pay for themselves. Do not expect a publisher to do everything or anything for you. It’s up to you as the author to promote your book. If you self-publish your book, seek to arrange for distribution before hiring a publicist.
44. Sell More Than Your Book: Have other products and services to sell, so that when your book generates publicity and traffic to your website, you're building customers for life.
45. Make It Personal: We know that creating your book is a labor of love—and of time and money. But the biggest step you have to take comes once the book is printed and ready to be sold. You need to have an aggressive publicity and marketing plan, or your book will get lost in the tsunami of new books published every year. And when you're promoting your book (particularly to the news media), you need to make it stand out. The best way to show off your book's uniqueness is to make it personal. To differentiate your book from others on a similar topic is not to highlight the contents but to spotlight your very own story. No one, regardless of the subject they write on, can have your story. You are one of a kind, at least until cloning takes over. Link your work to who you are—your experiences, your credentials, and your personality. We must be able to hear a distinct voice from the author even when the books begin to look alike. So the next time you discuss your book, discuss yourself. Lastly, whatever you say in describing your book, be positive, smile, and give off a confident, inviting look. People must feel they need, like, and trust you before they’ll buy from you.
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After spending years carefully crafting your manuscript, it’s tough to subject it to the judging eyes of others. Typically, the first round of reviews brings mostly positive feedback: Family and friends will read your work and be impressed by your tenacity and hard work. You'll probably enjoy an ego-stroke or two when they ask for autographed copies, looking forward to having a published author as a friend or relative.
The next round may be a little tougher. Industry people won't candy-coat their opinions, and you may receive feedback that's less than rosy. Take the good with the bad when it comes to criticism of your book, remembering to appreciate fresh perspectives that may illuminate problems you couldn't see before. No matter how it may feel at times, most people don't enjoy raking you over the coals--they just want to know if this is a book they can sell.
So what matters to these book people as they evaluate your work with an objective critical eye? Here are six factors they'll always look at:
- Platform: How many people already know you and want the information you are selling? Do you have a preexisting base of consumers for your book?
- Content: Fancy design work and a big publicity push will sell books for a few months, but continued sales rely on word-of-mouth advertising. Word-of-mouth advertising, in turn, relies on quality content that readers will find interesting over a span of time.
- Marketing: How will you persuade people to run to the bookstore and buy your book?
- Genre: Is the material appropriate for current trends in the genre? Will it stand out among other books of its type?
- Design: Books are always judged by their cover. Check out the Design & Production category for all kinds of great info.
- Price point: Price the item appropriately for its genre, length, and trim size. You may think a consumer will not mind paying an extra buck for your book, but bookstore buyers purchasing large quantities of the book will mind that extra dollar very much.
At the end of the day, no one can predict how a book will do. The unknowns are scary but inevitable. Make sure the variables you can control are all working for you so you're in the best position to face the unforeseen. Don’t be discouraged if someone says "no," and don't be offended by criticism. Learn what you can and keep pushing forward. This is the entertainment industry after all, and for its author, a book is a bit like a lottery ticket.
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Images can add a lot to a book, or any printed material. But if you want to jazz up your pages with graphics (figures, drawings, cartoons, illustrations, etc.) and you’re printing professionally, you’ll need these tips:
All images destined for print must be high resolution, which is to say 300 pixels per inch (ppi, sometimes also called dpi) or greater. Sometimes people try to fake the size of an image—an image is not high resolution if it was originally low resolution and then resized to force the resolution to 300 ppi, or if the resolution was simply changed. Using either technique does not improve the quality of the image and may make it worse. If you print a low-resolution image, the difference will show.
The most widely accepted kinds of digital image files are:
- .psd (Adobe Photoshop native file)
- .pdf (Adobe Acrobat file)
- .ai (Adobe Illustrator native file)
Here are some popular stock image sources:
- www.shutterstock.com (a subscription stock house)
- www.gettyimages.com (also sells news, sports, and historical photos)
- www.veer.com (also has hip and interesting illustrations)
Obtaining Image Rights
Images are copyrighted, just like any other form of intellectual property. You can’t use an image unless you get permission. Make sure you have the proper permission and the image will look right when it’s printed with the following guidelines.
- Don’t use images downloaded from websites. Not only will they probably be low-res, you don’t have the right to use them. If you have found the perfect image online, try to contact the owner and get permission to use it. (Your lawyer and publisher will probably require that the release be in writing!) Also, don’t forget to ask for the high-resolution version.
- Don’t scan images from other publications without getting the rights to use the images from the copyright holders. This can cause big headaches.
- If an image is in the public domain (such as images from government publications), you can use the image without getting permission, but you must credit the original source of the image in a source line.
- Once you purchase a “royalty free” photo, you can pretty much do whatever you want with it. “Rights managed” photos are another animal. Not only are they significantly more expensive to purchase, they often come with strict usage rules and restrictions. Make sure to notice which category your candidates belong to while you are shopping. Falling in love with a $2,000 image can leave you brokenhearted, or just broke.
- Provide your publisher with all the information you received regarding use of the photo when you obtained permission.
- If you own images that only exist in hardcopy and are scanning them before submission, it is critical that the images be scanned in at 1200 dpi. If you are unsure of your scanning capabilities, submit the original hard copy to your publisher and they will scan it in.
Creating Original Images
If you are creating original images (vector or raster images) using imaging software, it is important that you provide:
- the original native editable file (fonts NOT outlined, layers NOT flattened)
- all supporting files, including fonts and linked or embedded images
- a high-resolution flattened version of the image with fonts outlined (for example, an .eps or .tiff file)
- a printout of each image submitted with your manuscript
- a document that explains the format of the images provided, the software and version used to create the images, and the operating system.
Image Credits and Source Lines
It is important that any image you obtain the right to use is appropriately credited or sourced in the book. One way to do this is to include a credits section at the back of the book listing the images by page and the corresponding credit information. Another possible method is including a source line for each image near the presentation of the image in the text (for example, a line just below a graph). When you obtain the rights to use an image, the rights holder will tell you how to credit the image.
With these guidelines, you’ll end up with beautiful printed images—and a printer and publisher that love you. Happy hunting!
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year—holiday shopping season. Maximize your exposure and let the holidays work for you. Follow these three tinsel-tastic tips and you can deck the halls with boughs of book sales:
- Black Friday Ah, the joy of waking up at five AM the day after Thanksgiving only to go to the mall, park miles away from the door, wait in a line with a hundred of your closest friends, and then push and shove your way into the halogen light heaven that is After Thanksgiving Day Sales. Black Friday, or Blitz Friday, has become the day to shop for the holidays, which means you have the opportunity to expose your book to thousands of shoppers looking for the perfect gift for their loved ones. (Although the day itself offers a lot of opportunity, these techniques can be effective for the rest of the holiday shopping season as well.) Make sure your local bookstores have copies of your book on the shelves. If your best friend owns a gift shop, why not incorporate your book into a holiday display? Contact locally owned businesses about setting up a charity event in which you will donate some of your proceeds to the local food bank if they will agree to sell your book during Black Friday. Be creative, but get it out there!
- Cyber Monday Last year we saw a trend emerging, with online retailers launching digital campaigns and promotions the Monday following Thanksgiving Day: Cyber Monday. This is a great opportunity for you to get your book involved in a new shopping tradition. Offer book deals on your book’s website, perhaps a two-for-one deal or a 20 percent off coupon. Send emails to everyone you know with a coupon attached for 50 percent off the cover price of your book if they buy it through you and can provide you with three email addresses of friends who might also be interested in your book. There are no limits to the simple online promotions you can try to boost sales for the holidays.
- Work the Trends One of your most important duties in marketing your book is to be constantly aware of the trends, and I don’t just mean publishing trends. The worlds of advertising, PR, and marketing constantly change. Know where consumers are going to be, when they are going to be there, and how you can be there with your book. For instance, one of the hottest trends this year has been the growth of online social communities like Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. Try running a holiday promo through your MySpace page. Utilize your online social network and offer them a special deal.
And remember, 'tis the season to be jolly. Have fun with holiday promotions, don’t let them stress you out.
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Want people to believe what you write? Persuade them. It’s not complicated, but there’s a lot of competition out there fighting for your audience’s trust and attention. You can’t afford to sound unsure or unqualified. Here are three techniques guaranteed to get more people listening:
1. Use clear, strong language. As The Elements of Style so famously declares, "Vigorous writing is concise." Avoid clutter. Structure sentences with active verbs. Use the right word, not the longest or most "impressive" word. (Often this means the Anglo-Saxon instead of the Latinate: not utilization, but use; not prevaricate, but lie.) Reduce clauses, trim sentences, clarify meaning. You don't want to bore your reader with inert vocabulary and flaccid structure.
2. Give evidence. Readers may be taken with your bold style, but they appreciate substance as well. Support your argument with your reasoning or your proof. A reader who can follow your logic is much more likely to agree.
3. Use your own voice. If what you write sounds forced or uncharacteristic, you lose credibility. Don't ignore etiquette or grammar, but don't affect any styles or mannerisms that aren't natural unless you do so for a reason.
Listen to the responses you get, and try to tailor your message to address the obvious complaints. The art of persuasion is a powerful one—just try not to use your power for evil.