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much time and effort in creating a relatively polished draft of a book that lingers incomplete in an endless state of unpublished limbo.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.
Author Advocate, Brittany Lavin, January 7, 2011:
As I said in my very first blog, I grew up with dreams of becoming a published author. This wasn’t something I took lightly. I knew the odds were against me- but I didn’t want to give up. I’ve done my fair share of research of what it takes to get published. During my quest, I would see ads for author-originated publishing but I would only glance at them. At the time, they were just an after-thought. I suppose it was my own naiveté- my dream of getting picked up by a big publisher and being a huge success. I didn’t think of how limited I was being, or of the limitations I would come across.
Now that I work in the publishing industry I have a better understanding of the differences. So here is my understanding:
1. Rejection. I’ve said this before, but it’s one of the biggest differences out there. When you send your manuscript into a publishers or literary agent, they can reject you in an instant without any reason or feedback. This can be discouraging for many aspiring authors. In the self-publishing industry, however, aspiring authors can finally get their voice heard and their work is accepted.
2. In traditional publishing, you usually have to send your work to a literary agent before even getting to the publishing houses. You need the agent to talk your book up to the “big boys” and convince them to buy it. When self-publishing, there’s no politics or convincing needed.
3. Rights. This country is all about the rights of the people. In the publishing industry, they buy the rights to your book whereas in self-publishing, you keep the rights.
4. Content is King. When you give your life’s work over to a publisher, they can edit it how they see fit. They can take out that one part you love and worked so hard on. In self-publishing, you have final say over the content.
5. The main difference here is control. I’m not saying that traditional publishing takes away all of the author’s rights. I’m just saying that by publishing your work independently, you have more say in the overall process and more freedom to express your vision the way you want it.
In the end, what really matters is what you want and how you want your work to be presented to the public. The publishing industry is always changing and I know my understanding will change with it.
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.
Here is one more great way to promote and market your published book!
Established in 1997, PRWeb™ has become one of the major press release distribution companies on the Web. Today PRWeb takes advantage of its Online Visibility Engine™ (OVE). The OVE™ ensures that your news is the most visible of any news on and off the Web.
PRWeb distributes news to over 100,000 journalists and attracts a wide range of opt-in journalists, allowing them to customize their daily press release news feeds. Journalists select the industry categories they follow. Whenever a press release is submitted in their industry category, the journalists receive it by e-mail as they prefer.
Live editors review all press releases prior to distribution. Following distribution they are archived so that they can be indexed and easily found many years into the future. The editorial review and automatic archiving that is done at PRWeb make it the preferred choice for generating publicity today and in the future.
Also, PRWeb places your news directly in front of the eyes of your audience. Press releases distributed by PRWeb are regularly featured in Yahoo! News, Google News and thousands of other online locations. This dual distribution to both traditional journalists and the online audience has generated publicity, established expert status, created brand recognition and loyalty, and created new customers, as well as higher search engine placement, relevant search traffic and powerful reputation management.
Other benefits of PRWeb include the ability to attach files to the press release and upload images. These files and images can include items such as white papers, biographies, book excerpts, a PDF file, and photographs or graphics such as book covers.
Since January 2005, PRWeb has conducted a series of daily, free Webinars that further educate users about PRWeb, allowing them to examine the results that others have achieved by promoting their press releases online via PRWeb. PRWeb has a simple, easy to use, self serve online service found at www.PRWeb.com.
PRWeb can also assist you with all of your writing needs via its service bureau found at PRWebdirect™. Simply go to www.PRWebdirect.com and use the simplest and most efficient newswire service ever.
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 Brittany Lavin
Nowadays, there are so many resources open to writers to better their craft. You can take writing courses, read books on the subject, have daily writing tips sent via email, and even subscribe to blogs! A person’s writing style changes and grows with them and there are various forums open to them as they develop. However, there is one simple forum that I always found to be very effective.
Namely- learn from the best.
When I first started writing, my greatest influences were always my favorite authors. They were the ones I grew up reading and who, ultimately, inspired me to write. At first, with imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I tried to mimic their style in my own work. This is good for someone just starting out, but it is important to find your own style as your writing develops.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- reading is probably the best way to develop your writing. And don’t just read the genres you are interested in. Read EVERYTHING. Styles vary. The way a mystery author writes will be vastly different than the way a romance or sci-fi author writes. Open up to these different styles and you may find your perspective changed for the better.
As a writer who is still growing and developing, my greatest influences are William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Meg Cabot. Who are your greatest writing influences?
Photo by: Markus Rödder
by John F. Harnish
There’s no such thing as bad publicity, but there are poor book reviews. Bad publicity is common in today’s media because negative news stories improve ratings that increase the bottom line. Everybody seems to be more interested in bad news than in good news, unless of course, the good news is about them or someone they know. Poor book reviews that are professionally written and based on an objective evaluation by a knowledgeable reviewer, who actually read the book, could be experienced as bad news for the author.
The good news is that many of the professional review services give the author the option of not publishing the unfavorable review to various websites that feature book reviews. This provides the author with control over if or when the review will be released for publication. However, reviews that truly reflect the shortcomings of the book benefit the serious author by objectively showing what needs to be fixed so the author can make their book into a good read. It might come as a bit of a shock for the author to learn from a professional that their book isn’t all that great – especially after hearing from family and friends just how wonderful the book is. Hearing how great their book is, is exactly what every author wants to hear!!!
Beware of subjective comments about your book that are based only on personal opinions. It’s amazing how everyone will suddenly have an opinion about your expressive efforts. One person might say your opening to Chapter 3 seems weak, another might say they like your lead into Chapter 3 and how you built upon it, and another might not even comment about Chapter 3. Don’t put yourself in a position of doing a hasty knee-jerk rewrite by changing this and that and something else in response to subjective remarks. Trying to rewrite to please everybody will drive you crazy!
An objective review points out grammatical faults that, when corrected, improves the readability of the book. It will also focus on what you have written that works well to convey your thoughts to the reader. Now this isn’t a line-by-line edit of your book, but is instead an overview about how your wordsmithing efforts will most likely be perceived. This insight becomes valuable to the author when working with a professional editor to improve the quality of your book.
Don’t allow a bad book review to keep your book from being all that it can be! Think positive by using this objective overview as a springboard to make your book into a really good read. Let go of that ego stuff about your wonderfully self-expressive writing style being uniquely you – there’s nothing wonderful about your readers having a difficult time understanding the story you’re telling. Remember, the first essential quality of a good book is that it be readable.
Image courtesy of Simon Howden.
by Brittany Lavin
When I was in college I dreaded “peer review day,” when we would hand our work over to the person next to us for review and advice. As writers, we tend to get attached to our work and can be loath to accept help. I was no different.
But what is it that makes writers so afraid to hand over their work? Well, as the saying goes: “Everybody’s a critic.”
Criticism comes with the territory when writing. Someone is either going to love your work or hate it. Others may be completely indifferent. Whichever the case, all of them will offer their point-of-view of how you can make your work “better.”
This is where constructive criticism comes into play.
Constructive criticism is defined as criticism or advice that is useful and intended to help or improve something, often with an offer of possible solutions.
But how do you handle constructive criticism?
1. Don’t get defensive. Yes, you like your story the way it is but try to be open to new angles and plot points.
2. Think about it. Take time to really think about it and don’t respond right away. Let what the person is saying sink in.
3. Learn from it. Don’t think of the criticism as negative. Instead, turn it into a positive learning experience.
When dealing with constructive criticism, perhaps the most important thing to remember is to not take it personally. In the end, it’s your story and you can change it as you see fit. Just remember to be open to all possibilities.
Photo courtesy of Dominik Gwarek.
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.