John F. Harnish, Vice President Author Services
Some folks might think this is a trick question, sort of like which came first: the chicken or the egg. No writer wants to publish a book that goes splat like a broken egg as it hits the floor-never going anywhere except into the trash. Indeed there are a few writers who have invested many long months and even years in toiling to complete their manuscripts, only to chicken out and never submit their first effort at writing a book for publication. Such a waste it is to have invested so much time and effort in creating a relatively polished draft of a book that lingers incomplete in an endless state of unpublished limbo.
Dan Poynter, author of more than 125 books, is quick to explain to aspiring authors that all published books are always only 95% complete-there's always an elusive 5% of undoneness that haunts all authors. Even established authors with a long list of publishing credits have that nagging feeling to do a wee bit more tweaking of their written words or perhaps do yet another rewrite of the opening of chapter three. However, keep in mind the chaos factor: your changes to chapter three will flutter throughout the rest of the book and the ensuing storm is likely to plunge you into another complete rewrite of the entire manuscript. Yes, it's another dratful delay that will keep your book from being published and release for public consumption.
Late in the 1960s, I discovered freelancing magazine articles and stringing for newspaper wire-services could produce a rather lucrative revenue flow. For sure checks would be forthcoming when the assignment was completed prior to the deadline, within the required word count, and right on target with the assigned topic. Of course my always hungry agent would call to see how I was progressing. I didn't need her gentle nudging me along because I knew a check would soon be on the way because most of the terms of payment were upon acceptance of the piece and not the delaying terms of upon publication. I dare say there was only one time when my agent called to inform me that I had to do a rewrite. Ugh, I was less than thrilled being told I had to do a rewrite, but I was totally elated learning the rewrite was because the editor liked my article so much that they wanted me to expand the assigned piece to become a lead feature. Naturally for more money!!!
Now that's a rewrite with a purpose and a cash reward waiting at the completion of my efforts is an excellent incentive. My agent referred to me as her perfect word-smith because if the price was right I'd write on almost any topic. Indeed I shamelessly confess I wrote for the folding green, thusly, my agent would pass on assignments offering only a publishing credit-bylines don't put immediate cash in the bank account. However, with time permitting I'd write freely for the American Cancer Society, the Heart Association, Planned Parenthood, and various community betterment groups as my way of creating good karma by providing purposeful help from the donation of my talents.
Too many writers embark on doing a rewrite without a defined purpose in mind-except with the intent to polish their manuscript one more time, or maybe a friend read it and made the suggestion that you need to include more of this or perhaps less of that. Opinions are so subjective-another friend might remark you need less of this and more of that. Stop trying to write for the masses and focus on first reaching one reader with your wordsmithing skills. When your words resonate well with one unknown person, you're on your way to reaching a whole lot more folks with your creative efforts.
It would be easy for writers to avoid falling into the bottomless pit of overwriting and rewriting if manuscripts were like a Butterball turkey with one of those little thingies that pops out when the turkey is cooked just right. Sadly that's not the case. Thusly the writer needs to make the fateful determination that their book is as done as it can be and submit the book for publication. Serve up that turkey and feast on the juicy joys of your completed efforts as you banish once and for all any thoughts of doing another delaying rewrite.
After submitting your book for publication, I would strongly recommend paying a mere .019 cents per word for Infinity's copyediting service to provide the peace of mind that typos and grammar goofs have been professionally purged from your book. If you want more individualized help creating or completing your book, you might consider getting feedback from an experienced developmental editor offered in one of our advanced Book Genesis programs.
The proof books are specifically for you to read over to make certain the book is essentially just how you submitted it to Infinity Publishing a few weeks ago for publication. This is not the time to go changing this and that all around, such undertakings will only delay the publication and distribution of your book and you could incur additional expenses to facilitate making more needless changes. The odds are those changes aren't going to make a bit of a difference in the quality of the overall good read you are providing for your readers.
Give yourself the gift of closure with your book, pronounce it finished, you're at the end of the writing process, now get it published and out there so folks can buy your book and read your telling words.
Focus on the Benefits of the Reader
If you’re writing copy for a non-fiction book, you have to focus on the benefits of how your baby will solve your readers’ problems. You can do that my presenting bulleted lists of your benefits. Then you strategically place the FREE bonuses the reader is going to receive within the body of the copy. You’re taking the reader on a journey of what they’re going to receive when they order by a certain date. For best results, you should have a 48 hour deadline. You want the most books bought it the least amount of time to increase the book’s ranking.
You’re going to have to invest sweat equity. Give yourself 6 weeks before you’re ready to launch your campaign. Go to chat rooms, forums, do a Google search of popular websites that are in your particular self-help genre to locate marketers who might team up with you. To reach bestselling status, you need ezine list owners that are a compliment to your book. Be prepared for some list owners to not respond. Be persistent.
Make no mistake: If you wrote a self-help book for women, an Internet marketer with mostly male biz-opp names is NOT going to want to get involved with you!
Don’t Let List Owners Take Advantage
When they give you the freebie without mailing to their own list, they’re being selfish and piggy-backing off your hard work. This is a joint venture where everyone that’s helping you will also benefit when buyers of your book become subscribers of their ezine. It’s a win-win for everyone. Also, instead of using text copy in an e-mail, get a web designer to create an inviting, pleasing landing page so everyone could get the offer.
Outsource Tasks For Better Results
To become a bestselling author yourself, to get people to open their wallets, you need:
- Strong, compelling copy, along with a short deadline for the reader to take action by.
- An inviting and pleasing website page, NOT long, wordy copy in an e-mail.
- Present your offer to the properly targeted list and you’ll sell LOTS of books.
When you make it all happen according to your plan, then you can brag to family members, friends, and foes that you’re a best selling author!!! Won’t that be fun?
by John F. Harnish
Everyone looks forward to going away on vacation. Perhaps you’re planning a trip to the beach or maybe to the cool scenic beauty of the mountains. Then too, you might be taking the kids to enjoy the many thrills of Disney World. Whatever form of get-away you’re arranging, plan on taking copies of your book with you.
You might be thinking, “Are you crazy? I don’t need to take my book on vacation with me!” But if you leave your book at home, you’ll miss a golden opportunity to do some easy promotions and maybe even sell several copies. After all, who couldn’t use a few extras bucks in their pocket to help fund vacation fun? Making a few direct sales to folks you meet on vacation can make it a most profitable time for you.
Take a few copies of your book with you so when someone says, “Oh, you’re an author – what have you written?” you’ll have a book close at hand to do an easy show-and-tell for them. A book in hand is a surer sale than the interested party promising to order a copy from Amazon.com when they return home – odds are they’ll forget to order. If everyone who said they’d order a book actually followed through with their intentions, we’d all sell a lot more books. Sadly, they usually don’t do it, even though you gave them a bookmark, postcard or business card with complete ordering information for your book. Out of sight, out of mind, and you missed a sale.
Some resorts have an activities director who plans and coordinates events for guests to participate in during their stay. Get in touch with this person as soon as you’ve checked in and are settled in your room. Let them know you’re a vacationing author and you’d be delighted to do a reading and autograph copies of your book for their guests. Be flexible with your availability and express your willingness to fill in at the last minute if they suddenly have an open slot in their events schedule. Most likely you’ll be the only author there with a book to sell to a captive audience – much better than competing will all the other books in a bookstore.
If you have enough lead time, you could contact the resort activity director to schedule a reading during your stay. In terms of the post-event benefits, you’ll see and talk with fellow guests who, after attending the reading, will give you feedback. Plus, they’ll have time to read your book – after all, they’re on vacation, too! Naturally, you’ll enjoy a rush when you see folks sitting around the pool reading your book. Be prepared for them to engage you in conversation about your book. Don’t be shy – ask them to write a review!
Remember your loyal fans while you’re on vacation. Take a dozen or so names and addresses harvested from your website and send them a postcard with a brief personal note related to your book and the joys of being on vacation. Your investment of an hour, along with a few dollars for postcards and postage, will yield a tremendous amount of goodwill with your fans. Of course, some of them will call their friends and say, “You’ll never guess who I just got a postcard from!”
Yes, in this digital age of email and ecards, an actual postcard delivered at the door is something to talk about and the buzz about your book will continue. If there’s an independent bookstore close to where you’re staying, do indeed stop by for a brief visit and introduce yourself as a vacationing author. Give the owner/manager a complimentary copy of your book. Don’t waste your time or a book on any of the bookstore chains – they’re only authorized to order books with a local connection or by authors living in the area. Instead, take the time to visit the local library; they often have a summer reading circle of library patrons who would probably be thrilled to have a visiting author do a reading – they might even allow you to sell copies of your book.
Photo by: markcbrennan
by John F. Harnish
It isn’t news that the once booming economy of the United States is in dire straits. These trying times have touched our lives in a multitude of financially-challenged afflictions. Of special interest to authors is the detrimental impact this depressed economy is having on the book publishing industry.
The remaining mainstream book publishing houses have had more layoffs and down-sizing by dropping several well known house imprints. There is a major reduction in the number of purchased manuscripts being acquired and eventually published.
Slashed advertising budgets are being allocated to launch books by eminent and long established authors – they’re putting their bets on what has sold well, book after book. Corporate mandates make it mission critical for every published book to produce their projected numbers. Staffing cuts have reduced several publishing services – such as copyediting and rights verification – traditionally done by the mainstream houses.
All things considered, this is not the time to invest your time attempting to attract the interest of a major house in publishing your book. Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as valuable as knowing what to do. Now is the time to renew you efforts to promote your book to people who will perhaps buy a copy of your book. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Print media is struggling to retain a dwindling subscriber base that’s essential for justifying ever increasing advertising rates. Once highly valued column inches devoted to reviewing new releases have been dropped or drastically reduced in several leading daily and monthly printed publications. Ads for new books in many of these publications have been reduced in size and frequency, because these costly advertisements aren’t producing expected book sales in this depressed economy. In troubled times, advertising budgets are usually the first to be trimmed.
Reach out to family, friends and associates who have read your book and ask them to write and post online reviews or blurbs – every bit of exposure for your book is a benefit. Make it easy by doing a Google search for websites, sites where the info about your book would be of interest to visitors, and send your potential reviewers the link, so they can put up what they think about your book. Be patient, as it may take awhile for them to write a blurb and post or send it to you.
If you haven’t invested your time and a little bit of money in creating a website for your published book, now is the time to do it. Keep the design of your website simple, and focused entirely on your book and you, the author. Don’t mess around with setting up a shopping cart to do direct sales – you want to do a brief show-and-tell to make the sale, and then direct the buyer to www.buybooksontheweb.com and to your book page, place their book order.
What kind of books are selling in these turbulent times??? How-to and do-it-yourself books are popular because they often include things you can do yourself to save money. Almost any book that will help readers save time and money is worthy of promoting in targeted markets where the benefits are easy to relate with. Self-improvement books also sell well.
Books expanding on health issues and developing healthy attitudes and habits are popular as well as inspirational books that offer positive encouragement.
All types of novels telling interesting and compelling stories are perfect for escaping into. Popular fiction sells in depressed times, but you need to use your creativity to hook potential readers on the escapism qualities of your novel.
One of the ways for generating a new revenue flow is to make your published content available for sale in different versions such as eBooks and audio books.
Photo courtesy of Dani Simmonds.
VP of Author Services, John F. Harnish, October 5, 2010:
As it has been said so many times, in so many, many ways, writing is a very lonely form of creative expression. The silently solo art of conjuring thoughts into reflective words appearing on the printed page has rendered a significant number of writers to become rather introverted by their isolated writing habits. Some folks would say they don’t get out much!!!
Book futurist, Dan Poynter, was one of the first international authorities on successful book publishing to identify and address the unique needs of introverted writers. His interactions with tens of thousands of authors, during his frequent globe-trotting adventures, have confirmed prevailing introverted traits in most writers.
The dictionary defines an introverted person as tending to be shy and quiet, or ill at ease in front of a group and fearful of public speaking, In addition to – or perhaps as an explanation – the writer person is often perceived as being self-absorbed and uninterested in other people and events happening in the world around them.
Dan’s observations nailed the shy, reserved qualities of many writers; however, apart from the creative curse of at times becoming immersed in the solitude of personal expressiveness, writers are acutely aware of other people and the world around them because that is what they frequently write about.
Writers write to inform and entertain readers with their wordsmithing skills for telling the story. The entertainment aspect in this brave new world of book publishing and self-promotions by the author, increasingly involves speaking to groups interested in learning more about the author’s book.
Some authors avoid the hassle of public appearances by making a video to broadcast their book pitches across the vastness of the Internet via YouTube, Google, FaceBook, etc. Other authors prefer face-to-face time with small groups of potential customers for their books. The best way to learn about folks most interested in hearing about your book is by contacting your local library. Special topic reading circles often meet at libraries and they will usually welcome visiting authors. It’s amazing how fears of public speaking fade away when you’re talking with a gathering of neighbors, friends, and strangers at the library.
Often times, seemingly shy authors are magically transformed into dynamic presenters when they have the opportunity to talk about their book and answer questions on the topic or genre. They know the book completely and are comfortable talking about the insight they gained while researching the topic.
Dan Poynter urges writers to get the book inside them out there in a printed form. After the book is published, the author needs to reach out and talk about their book. It’s the buzz generated by the author that stimulates book sales – and that’s a fact.
-John F. Harnish
by John F. Harnish
Absolutely the most essential part of your book is its abstract or synopsis—the 100-word explanation intended to hook readers’ interest in buying yourbook. Most likely you dashed off a quick description when you submitted your book file for publication.
Since its release for sale and reading your first-blush posting at BuyBooksOnTheWeb.com, have you even thought about your book’sdescription? Now is the time to rewrite the 100-word description of your book to make each word clearly present the benefits your book will provide.
Invest time in logging onto Amazon and study the style and pitch of a dozen blurbs posted about books similar to yours—make notes about what aspects worked effectively and what phrases could have been left out. Now apply your same objective evaluation of what works and what doesn’t in your 100-word pitch. Visit Netflix and read movie blurbs on similar topics, or in your genre, to harvestcurrent keywords or phrases you can adapt to your book. These are your first steps in rewriting your 100 words—actually, rewriting 300 words.
Yes, write 3 different descriptions for distribution to your family and friends, and solicit their feedback about the one description they think would best attract readers—along with why they believe it works. This new and vastly improved abstract becomes your ever-ready answer when you’re asked, “What’s your book about???”
In the interest of putting your best words forward, invest time in updating your 100-word bio, too. Make every word sing with your accomplishments—spare miscellaneous details; instead, stress interesting key points. Purge negative references and non-essential information from your bio—the most important element it needs to clearly convey is that you have the experience and background to write a non-fiction book on the topic; and for novelists, you have the ability to write a great story.
Review your potential review sources—email folks who have read your book. By all means, contact Uncle Johnny who took the time to buy and read your book; and he also took a few minutes to drop you a note that your book was a good read. Now is the time to ask him to post his certain-to-be glowing review of your book on BBOTW and on Amazon.
Please don’t write a review of your book as if you’re someone else. This type of self-serving deception has a nasty way of coming back to bite you on the buns when you least expect it.
Photo courtesy of Jason Aaberg.
by John F. Harnish
Where’s the worst place to sell your book? Take your pick.
A. In an elevator
B. In a pro shop
C. In a restaurant
D. In a seminar setting
E. In an independent bookstore
F. In a national chain bookstore
Not so fast- the answer isn’t as easy as you think. Let’s take a closer look at each option.
A. The elevator- Every author should have a 60-second elevator pitch. Why? Well, imagine you are in an elevator on your way to an authors’ conference. Who should be on the elevator with you but a well-known editor, literary agent, or wonder of wonders- a famous movie producer? AND they just asked you what your book is about. Here’s your chance! There’s less than a minute before the elevator reaches his floor. Remember to remain calm and don’t get tongue-tied. Shoot for brevity. Think about the three most important aspects of your book that make it one of a kind. Write out your pitch and practice reciting it in a minute or less. Sometimes it only takes a moment to change your life.
B. The pro shop- That’s right, sports clubs, health spas, and other places that focus on exercise or sporting activities are excellent places to do a book signing if your book will help to improve their game or enhance their daily exercise program. You’ll have a captive audience who will hopefully be interested in the topic and will want to buy your book. Dan Poynter doesn’t go to bookstores to promote his new book about skydiving. He goes wherever skydivers are gathering to talk about their rushes from jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft. He’s presenting to his primary target audience, he’s prepared with handouts, and he has an ample supply of books to provide instant gratification for eager buyers.
C. The restaurant- The retail price of most books sold today is about the same as dinner at a decent restaurant. People eat out more often than they go to a bookstore. Most restaurants have a slow evening when they’d appreciate a few more patrons. One of these nights is the perfect time to have you come in to do a reading while the patrons enjoy dining. This is like a dinner theater, expect the author is the star and the lines are read from the author’s book. The restaurant can do a mailing to their patrons promoting Dinner-with-the-Author night. Naturally, you’ll promote it to family, friends and co-workers. Maybe a couple dozen will make reservations and actually show up. Whatever the number, it will be more than they usually have on a slow night. The author will benefit by having potential customers who will learn more about the book while they enjoy a good meal.
D. The Seminar- Seminars are sensational settings for selling topic books. Seek out local and national associations devoted to your book’s topic. Bring your book to the attention of the organizers by letting them know you would be delighted to do a presentation about your book—available for purchase after your talk. Back-of-the-room sales are profitable.
E. The independent bookstore- Bookstores are perhaps the worst place to do a book signing, because your book is competing with thousands and thousands of other books. All you have going for you is what you say about your book—so talk clearly with a proud passion. Many independents have an active calendar of in-store events featuring local authors. They’ll usually order the featured book when they schedule a promotional event. You need to contact independent bookstores in your area to be considered for these events.
F. The national chain bookstore- A national chain bookstore is the worst place to do a signing. They’ll order your book through Ingram and your Infinity title will be produced by Lightning Source for Ingram’s distribution. The deep discount of 55% cuts deeply into the author’s earned royalty. And in addition to the ever-present tables of discounted books, you have even the most recent bestsellers on sale at a 40% discount!!! Some of the chain store managers are more flexible and will schedule local self-published authors for in-store events. However, be careful they don’t charge you a fee for promoting your appearance. Accept the fact that you’ll have the prestige of doing a bookstore event without much in the way of profit. Yes, the greater profits for the author are often found far beyond the bookstores—no fooling!!!
Photo courtesy of Dolf Bakker.
by John F. Harnish
Nothing is more frustrating when you’re reading along and you have an imposed Say What??? moment. You pause to ponder what the author is trying to say. Sometimes this can be attributed to following the twists of a turning plot, or understanding the explanation of complex instructions; but at times it reads as if the author doesn’t know the correct usage of the words.
When I was writing The Nose Saga: Cancer Stinks!!! my overwhelming concern was to be as correct as possible describing medical terms and procedures. I translated doctor-talk into hopefully more understandable laymen’s terms as seen from the patient’s viewpoint – at least while I was awake. I dare say the saga reflects on one of the times when I used a common medical nomenclature and the briefly befuddled nurse heard the word in a shockingly different way.
Incorrectly used words chip away at the author’s credibility, causing readers to wonder if the author knows what they are writing about. There ain’t no way that common usage makes it right – that just ain’t so!!! Ain’t is an exception that continues to cause English teachers to cringe.
I also wince when I hear authors say, “My book is entitled…” UGH!!! The author writes the title of the book, and once graced with a title the book is titled with the title bestowed by the author, and that’s what the title is – at least until an agent or mainstream house changes the title supposedly to earn more sales appeal. Entitled is a legal term that’s become a bastardized publishing term. A court ruling might determine the plaintiff is entitled to damages, but the only legal entitlements your book is entitled to are the royalties established in the publishing agreement.
Sure, authors hooked on using entitled – perhaps because entitled has an air of royalty – are quick to point out that the talking heads on TV always say their guest is the author of the bestselling book entitled… UGH!!! The more knowledgeable heads get the use of titled uncommonly right.
Unknowingly wrong are those authors who want you to know they’ve written a fictional novel. A make-believe UGH!!! The definition of a novel is that it is a work of fiction – of course there are various genres of novels, but it’s all fiction. The author is the novelist telling the story, the better the storytelling the better the novel reflecting the tale – some tales are taller than others. Size matters not, what matters are the creative wordsmithing skills of the writer.
Then there’s the writer who has written an original book. Good Grief!!! I’m glad it’s not one of those original duplicated books like the monk-scribes did many, many centuries ago. Hello, in the here and now, ‘tis the creative writing of the authoring mind that flows into creating the book. Any way you slice it, creative brain play funneled into a book damn well better be conjured from your original thoughts – otherwise, ‘tis true, they do walk among us!!!
Perhaps the term stems from US Copyright protection for original work – setting original work apart from illegal plagiarized work!!! Publisher and the Public have an expectation that the author’s work is indeed original. Authors file for copyright protection through the Library of Congress; the LOC does not engage in copywriting. The copywriting of advertising pitches and crass commercial messages is very different than protecting the rights of your content by filing for Copyright protection. Copyediting enhances your content – Copyright protects your content.
Your creativity, your content, your book are all rightful applications of your denoting ownership, but what boils my blood is the use of self – most specifically when authors are misled into believing their book has been self-published when truth in fact the book has NOT been self-published. The only way the book was self-published is if the author owns the publishing company and the ISBN identifies the author-owned publisher as the publisher of record for the author’s book. Self-published authors don’t earn royalties, they pay themselves from the eventual profit of the proceeds from books sold.
Authors who enter into a publishing agreement with a publisher or publishing service are authorizing said publisher to publish and distribute their books in exchange for royalties paid on books sold. There is an author in authorizing, but there is not a self. The only self that is essential in publishing is self-promoting your book – getting exposure for your book is an absolute must, regardless of how it came to be published, because the how matters not a bit to the public.
Photo courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian.
by John F. Harnish
The difference between writers’ conferences and authors’ conferences is basically volume.
Most writers attend writers’ conferences to make one vital connection with one agent who will pitch their book to one mainstream publisher, and then, presto, wham, bang, bong magically lands one of those long sought-after publishing contracts that will finally make their long-time-in-waiting manuscript into a published book. The primary interest of writers’ conference participants is selling the merits of one unpublished manuscript to one agent, with the goal of facilitating selling the rights to the one book to one traditional mainstream house. Once in a while it happens and a fruitful connection is made, but more often than not it doesn’t happen, and the wannabe author goes home with only a few subjective suggestions for yet another rewrite and the draft of still another one-page query letter to send off once again, to literary agents.
Writers with a published book attending an authors’ conference soon discover they are the ones the focus of the conference is on and the topics are all about teaching one and all proactive promotional techniques to sell more books – selling more and more books is what all authors want to achieve, regardless of with whom or how their book was published. It’s more fun and in the long run more rewarding conceiving concepts to promote your book to the masses, than to sharpen a hard sell directed at one agent, who then must do a successful resale to a publisher. Instead of pondering the profound points of a query letter, authors are polishing their elevator book pitch so the next time someone inquires as to what their book is about, they can provide a clear and concise answer in a minute or less. Attendees go home from an authors’ conference with a dozen or more fresh approaches for promoting their books.
Writers’ conferences tend to limit attendees having direct contact with participating presenters, editors and agents because private consultations are most often only available to the writers paying additional fees. All presenters and keynoters at good authors’ conferences welcome the opportunities to socialize and talk informally with any of the attending authors about their books, and freely share marketing concepts for authors to consider implementing when they return home.
Writing and endlessly pitching agents is a lonely task, while authors gathering together at a conference openly exchange book promotions that are working successfully to sell more books to more folks everywhere. Indeed, marketing your book can be hard work, but with ongoing efforts it’s much more rewarding than receiving one more rejection letter.
If you’re an author seriously interested in successfully marketing your book, you really need to give thought to attending an authors’ conference in the near future. You’ll be glad you did.
-John F. Harnish
Photos courtesy of John F. Harnish via www.authorsconference.com