If you’ve been reading my emails for a while you’ll see that I’ve been following a sequence throughout this year of priming you to write your book by offering good solid content. I’ve led you through the basics and discussed many of the steps that go into writing a book or ebook.
And now we come to what many authors dread: I have to sell those precious books. For many of us writing is the most satisfying part of the process—we expressed our thoughts, shared our expertise, and fulfilled a goal. But writing is the furthest activity from marketing! So this month, I’m tackling “book marketing made fun and easy!” (Marketing and promotion are so similar, I use them here interchangeably).
This week I want to talk about a marketing plan. Because promoting your book may feel foreign and overwhelming, it helps to have a strategy. Here are some of the steps you might want to include in your plan:
1. Get support in your marketing efforts (a mentor, coach, PR expert, VA, partner…)
2. Locate your ideal readers (you identified who they are before you wrote the book)
3. Decide where you will market based on where your readers are
4. Plan online and offline activities
5. Schedule at least one marketing/promotional task per week
6. Track your results
This should get you started. From my experience and education in book marketing, I’ve found that each book has a path of its own. While one book can catapult to the bestseller lists through blogging, another book might build its success through media interviews.
The path you take to success will be based on the nature of your book, your ideal readers, and you! The clearer you are on these, the easier it will be to find the best marketing plan for your book. I’ll go into more detail in the next emails.
Learn as you go and keep doing what works best for you.
Happy writing (& promoting),
PS. A quick reminder, if you live in the San Diego area or know someone who does, I’ll be teaching a 5-week course “Writing Nonfiction” starting Monday, September 12 at MiraCosta College (http://www.miracosta.edu/community) and I’ll be giving a talk “All About Ebooks” on Tuesday, September 13 at San Marcos Library (http://securelamp.csusm.edu/extstudies/el/rp/course_details.php?cid=1785) to introduce my 6-week class “Write an Ebook” starting Tuesday, October 4 at Cal State San Marcos (www.csusm.edu/el).
Well, we’re finally at the last week of this month’s lessons on traditional vs self publishing. What I want to share today is the path to self publishing. In a nutshell, you write your book, you get it edited (of course), you have it formatted, you get a cover designed, you obtain an ISBN number, and you select a printer.
You can choose between the brick and mortar printer down the street if you need hand holding or in the mid-west if you want the best prices. Or you can choose an online printer known as a POD, print-on-demand. Some of these are Lightning Source, Author House, CreateSpace, LuLu, and iUniverse. They’re called POD because no longer do you have to store thousands of books (remember my 10,000 book fiasco) as the printer will print and ship books as you need them.
I’m not the authority on POD since they change as often as Lady Gaga’s hair color! I suggest you do your research, ask other authors, and get involved in a writers’ group either virtually or in your neighborhood. I belong to www.publisherswriters.org and we have a Yahoo group where anyone can ask for referrals to printers, editors, cover designers, etc.
One thing I will say, the research is part of the process. But once you find your printer, editor, cover designer, and formatter, you won’t have to look again. One of the members of our group here in San Diego has printed 17 books with Author House and he raves about them. I have a friend who has had a long relationship with iUniverse. Yes, some of these have been around for a while, and others have cropped up recently.
I suggest asking the printer for a sample book. Do the same with cover designers—check out their samples. Same goes for copyeditors and formatters. These are the people who will form your self publishing team.
So you finally have that glorious book in your hands. Now what? And then comes distribution and promotion. Yes, you have to sell the darn thing, not only to get your money back but to make profits, spread your message, and attain whatever other goals you have for your book. You might want to hire a book publicist to start or get tips from other writers. But I think book promotion is a topic for another set of lessons.
I just want to leave you with this last piece of vital information. No longer are traditional and self publishing your only options. Welcome to the bright shiny world of e-publishing…
Andrea Susan Glass
Have you made up your mind yet as to which path you’ll choose for your book? The reason I ask is that if you decide to submit your book to a traditional publisher, you don’t need to write the whole book. So before you write “the end” it would be best to choose one path.
So let’s say you’re looking for a major publisher. You might want to look in books similar to yours to see who publishes them. You can also look online on Amazon and in the library in Literary Marketplace. Additionally Writers Digest lists publishers and their specialties/genres such as women’s fiction, memoir, spirituality, or young adult.
You’ll need to do some research on the publisher and see if they’ll accept queries or if you need to find a literary agent first. If you need to find an agent, then go back to your research, see which agents represent the books in your genre, and do some searching in the resources I mentioned as well as online.
For both fiction and nonfiction books, you’ll first submit a one-page query letter. Find out if the agent or publisher accepts e-queries. If not, use snail mail. E-queries tend to get much faster responses, so do as many of those as you can with the appropriate agents and publishers, that is, those who represent your genre. I’d highly suggest you have a professional writer/editor like me review your query letter before submitting it.
If the agent or publisher is interested, they’ll ask for a synopsis or the whole book for fiction and a book proposal for nonfiction. Writing a book proposal is like writing a mini-book. I’ve written several of them and I really enjoy it, because it encourages the author to take a global look at the book: overview, market, promotion, author bio, book outline, sample chapters.
Either have a professional write your proposal or at least have it edited. Remember, this is your first impression and you won’t have an opportunity to make a second. The agent or publisher wants to see your writing style and gauge the success factor of your book. Less than 1% of proposals get accepted, which is why so many authors are turning to self publishing.
We’ll look at the self publishing process more in depth next week.
Andrea Susan Glass
PS. If you’d like to see a sample book proposal I’d be happy to send you one I wrote for a client. Just email me at email@example.com.
I hope your week has gone well for you. To pick up from last week, now that you know a bit more about traditional publishing, I’d like to discuss the reasons you might choose the self publishing option and the benefits and drawbacks of this path as compared to traditional publishing.
Today, self publishing has never been easier with computer design programs, digital printing, and POD (print-on-demand) presses. I remember the first book I ghostwrote for a client about 10 years ago. We printed 10,000 copies to get a break on the price. That book went on to win the San Diego Book Awards for best how-to book, but we also got stuck with thousands of books we couldn’t sell.
So why would someone choose to self publish? You might want to self publish if: you like to control everything; you want all the profits; you’re clear about your target audience and how to find them; you want your book out sooner than later; you have a team of people to design your cover, format your book, copyedit the content, and help you promote it. If you have any of these desires, you might choose this path.
These are some of the benefits and drawbacks of self publishing: quick turnaround time for producing books, keep all profits, low set up and printing costs, full control over content and cover, can easily add other books, CDs, or other products, comfortable promoting book; however, you may not have distribution to get into book stores, in some industries self published books have less prestige, quality may be inferior, and you have to handle all aspects of production and promotion.
Now not all of these apply in every situation; I’m just trying to give you an overview so you can see the primary distinctions between traditional and self-publishing so you can make a wise choice. And it’s not unheard of for a self published author to later be picked up by a publisher if you’ve done a good job promoting and selling your book.
So weigh both options, choose your path, and go build your book to bestseller status! Next week I’ll go over the process of obtaining a traditional publisher.
Andrea Susan Glass
PS. Please feel free to contact me for a complimentary discussion if you’re still undecided or have more questions. Sign up at www.writersway.com
It’s hard to believe the summer is half over and I haven’t even taken a vacation yet. Have you? I hope so.
Well for those of you still hanging around, I thought this month I’d discuss the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing. When a prospective author comes to me and wants to write a book, I ask them right away whether they plan on seeking a publisher or publishing themselves. Some are pretty clear while others don’t have a clue which path they want to pursue.
Those who are sure they want to find an agent or publisher to publish their book will take a different path from those who are clear that they will self publish their book. For those of you who aren’t sure, let me explain some of the pros and cons of each path.
This week I’ll focus on traditional publishing and next week self-publishing. With the ease and popularity of self-publishing and more recently e-publishing, it seems traditional publishing’s days are numbered. Over the years, the number of traditional New York publishers has dwindled, and of those left many have merged. Additionally, mid-size and small publishers have sprouted as digital publishing has made book printing more accessible to those who want to start a small press.
In case you’re not familiar with them, your traditional publishers are Little Brown, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper, Hay House, Wiley, and a few more. Look on your bookshelves at your hard cover books and you’ll find the traditional publishers.
Let’s look at why someone would choose traditional over self publishing: wants someone else to handle printing, distribution, and sales; wants the prestige of having a large publisher; wants a literary agent to handle writing career; wants publisher to arrange promotion; has a platform and wants to expand a brand; wants the support of an in-house editor. If you have any of these desires, you might choose this path.
Now, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to traditional publishing: publisher pays all production costs, does initial promotion (in most cases), distributes books, has sales team; however, it can take years (or never) to find an agent or publisher, you’re expected to have an established following (platform), you only get a small percentage royalty, you have minimal control over cover and content, you’ll wind up doing the bulk of promotion.
If you’re still not sure which path is right for you, stay tuned to my next installment on self publishing.
Andrea Susan Glass
Once you’ve chosen your copyeditor, you’ll have a quote and a timeline. You either pay a deposit or the whole amount, depending on what the cost is. This can range anywhere from .01 to .02/word or from around $50 to $75/hour depending on the level of experience of the copyeditor and the complexity of the editing needed. So a 100-page or 30,000 word book might cost between $300 to $600.
Your editor should set up a timeline with you that meets any commitments you have. For example, if one of my clients has a conference or speaking engagement and needs a book in hand by September 1, I would want the editing completed by July 15 to allow enough time for formatting, design, and printing.
Copyeditors work on an individualized basis with each client.
Generally, you submit your book, ebook, article, brochure—whatever you need edited—to your copyeditor as an attached file. Some editors edit by hand, if the client requests that, but it’s not as effective as electronic editing.
Most editors use the “track changes” tool in Word to make visible edits on your document. This way you can see what’s been added and deleted as well as the editor’s comments. You can then learn from the edits and improve your future writing. You can also mouse over the edits and accept or reject them if you agree or disagree. Ultimately, you the author, make the final decisions.
The editor must work to preserve the tone and style of your writing, so this is a skill that takes practice. However, the copyeditor will make suggestions to improve any aspect of the writing including format, voice, etc.
Be open to your editor’s comments and edits and discuss any concerns you have. Ultimately, you want your ideal copyeditor as part of your team.
P.S. For a limited time, I’m offering my special report, “The WritersWay to Finding the Ideal Copyeditor” for 50% off the regular price of $10. Through August 15, you can purchase it for only $5 and find out all you need to know to select the ideal copyeditor for your team. Here’s the link to buy the report: http://bit.ly/oJp16N
There’s no one-size-fits-all editing, so your specific needs must be taken into consideration when selecting a copyeditor.
As a seasoned writer you might need less help than a newbie, such as a general critique, line editing, and some light polishing. If you’re a first time or unpublished writer, you may require a significant amount of hand-holding, help in organization and development, as well as line editing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
So first get clear on your needs, and then start the search for your ideal copyeditor.
Just as you would look for a doctor, hair stylist, or car mechanic, start out asking for referrals. You may not have the same taste as your friends or business colleagues, but referrals are the best place to start. Next conduct some research online as well as looking in books to see who the author used for editing. You can also go to bid sites like www.directfreelance.com where copyeditors post profiles. Also check your connections through www.LinkedIn.com, www.Facebook.com, and other social networking sites. I’m often found in professional association directories like www.SDPen.com and www.PublishersWriters.org, so look at those sites.
Interview three top candidates, have them do a sample edit on the same document, and get a bid. From there, make your decision and move forward. Always keep your communications clear, ask questions when you don’t understand something, and do your best to create a successful partnership.
P.S. Also check testimonials and get references. I’m happy to supply references of my past satisfied clients to anyone who’s considering hiring me.
Editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders all work with written materials to make them the best they can be. The terms editor and copyeditor are synonymous, although “editor” can also mean a book editor who works at a publishing company and shepherds an author’s book through initial stages all the way to publication.
What copyeditors do is work from the most complex level to the simplest, which I’ll explain shortly. Proofreaders are usually the last person to see the book, ebook, or report before it goes to print and mostly looks for typographical errors.
I’ll use the term “copyeditor” from here on because that covers the full spectrum of print editing. Let’s start at the simplest level first.
A simple or light edit covers spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage, repetition, consistency in capitalization, numbers, abbreviations, contractions, style, and format. At this level, someone who excelled in English can help writers who weren’t top English students.
A medium to heavy (or substantive) edit includes everything in a light edit as well as fact checking, permissions, minor rewrites for passive writing and better clarity, flow, jargon, sexism, and more. This level requires a lot of experience in both seeing the detail and the big picture of the book or report, etc.
A developmental editor often gets involved at the beginning of the project to work with the author on creating the book, ebook, article, etc. so it starts off and continues to a satisfying conclusion. The developmental editor becomes the author’s partner in building a successful product.
Which type of editor do you think you need?
Find out in my next installment.
P.S. Just a quick reminder that I offer a variety of coaching options if you need some support in getting started or completing your book or ebook. Check them out at www.writersway.com/services.
Okay, you’ve decided you need a ghostwriter. You want to write your book, you’ve admitted you need help, and you need a ghostwriter. You want to find the right person. So how do you choose a ghostwriter?
In most cases when seeing a new service provider, you often start with a referral. So ask around and see if anyone you know has used a ghostwriter or knows of one. You can also attend writing organization meetings or meetups and see if there are any ghostwriters present. Check the organization’s website and review the members. For example, I’m a member of Publishers & Writers of San Diego (www.publisherswriters.org) and our website lists the members. And like most anything you’re looking for these days, you can do an Internet search. I’m surprised how many people find me online in the morass of my competitors. I must be doing something right.
So now you’ve found a few ghostwriters. What’s next? First, you’ll want to review their website if they have one and get a sense of what they do and how competent and experienced they seem. Then send them an email or call them on the phone. I prefer to set up phone or in-person appointments so we don’t play too much telephone tag.
Remember that you’ll be in a long-term relationship (at least three months or more) with this person, so you have to not only feel they’re an excellent writer, but that you share similar values, like honesty, good communication, reliability, and keeping agreements. This is what’s important to me. I get very frustrated when my clients continually break appointments or worse, don’t even show up. Or when they don’t return emails or phone calls!
I suggest interviewing two to three ghostwriters, get samples of their work, and check a few references. It’s best if you can meet in person, but if not have at least two phone calls. Then let your head and your heart have a conversation and make your choice. Also when you sign a contract, make sure there’s an easy way out in case it isn’t working. I have that in all my contracts.
Here’s to a successful working relationship with your ghostwriter of choice and to a fabulous book!
PS. Please contact me about your ghostwriting needs. If I’m not the right person for you, I have quality referrals. (www.WritersWay.com/contact)
In some cases, a ghostwriter may write the whole book, in some cases parts of the book. The ghostwriter may do all the research or some of it. The ghostwriter may work on his/her own or in partnership with the “author”.
How you work with a ghostwriter will be customized to your needs. When I start working with a new author, I send them a questionnaire to get some basic information such as what their book is about, what their motivation for the book is, who their target reader is, and how much information they have gathered for the book.
The answers to these questions will determine how we proceed. If you are a new author and all you have is an idea for a book, we would sit down in person, or over the phone or skype, and discuss the answers to these questions as well as whether or not you want to self publish or seek a publisher. We’d talk about your budget and timeline.
Once we’ve established answers to these questions, we can set up the process and schedule. I like to estimate three to six months to complete a 150-200 page book. It could take less time, it could take more. It’s often up to the author as they usually have a business to run and other activities generally take priority. That is, unless you have a strong motivation to finish your book sooner, say because you’ll be speaking or attending a convention.
We work together by phone to check in regularly as you write a chapter or send me content to write the chapter. Then I send it back to you to review while I move on to the next chapter. Or in some cases, you write all the chapters and send them to me to flesh out or polish up, or I write all the chapters and send them to you to review and add and delete as the case may be.
In most cases working with a ghostwriter is a partnership, so it’s important to have a good working relationship. I’ll talk about how to choose a ghostwriter in the next installment, so stay posted.
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