Archive for Publishing & Royalties

Author Pat Honiotes

Author Pat Honiotes

Author Pat Honiotes’ (pictured left) has written an empowering book called The Practical Guide to Figuring Yourself Out. Today we share an audio interview of how Spirit Authors helped her behind the scenes to get her book published. 

Recently, my good friend Shelagh Jones of Spiritus Spiritual Marketing Directory contacted me saying she was working with a client to self-publish and launch her self-help book, and she needed some help from me to fill in the gaps. The client was a delightful woman named Patricia J. Honiotes, M.S. and her book is entitled The Practical Guide to Figuring Yourself Out – How to Go From Stuck to Star of Your Life.

PAT HONIOTES, M.S. is an internationally renowned personal empowerment coach, therapist, educator, and Reiki Master Teacher and healer. Formerly a special education teacher, Pat has a Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and is also a Board Certified Medical Hypnoanalyst. Since 1982, she has helped thousands of clients take ownership of their lives through private sessions, seminars, workshops and classes. Her down-to-earth honesty and non-judgmental outlook create a relaxed, safe environment for all who work with her. A firm believer in “walking the talk”, Pat’s book The Practical Guide to Figuring Yourself Out is the culmination of her personal life journey combined with over three decades of work devoted to helping clients reclaim their self-worth and experience the joy and richness of life itself.

As you can see from her bio, Pat is tremendously experienced in the personal development field, but what she had never really done before was think like a marketer. The subsidiary press she was using to publish her book asked her for a ‘book blurb’ and some copy for the back cover of her book. While Pat was an expert in her subject matter, she really didn’t have a clue where to begin with these challenges. She asked Shelagh for help, who in turn contacted me (thank-you, Shelagh!). So, I wrote both the book blurb and the back cover copy. I also wrote Pat’s bio (which you see above) AND made a 1-page media kit for her.

Pat’s book, The Practical Guide to Figuring Yourself Out, comes out this week on Friday November 8th, 2013. Shelagh has organized a Virtual Blog Tour (VBT) for Pat to help promote the launch, and because I was involved in the publishing process, she asked me if I would be a ‘stop’ on the tour. Today I am delighted to be the host on the 3rd day of Pat’s VBT. Yesterday, Pat H. visited Pat Thompson’s ‘Cultivating Balance’ blog at http://work-life-balance.blogspot.co.uk, where they explored a fascinating perspective on ‘figuring ourselves out’.

Because the purpose of Spirit Authors is to offer self-publishing and marketing advice to authors, Shelagh came up with a brilliant idea that, instead of me interviewing Pat about her book, Shelagh would do an audio interview with me about the process of creating the book blurb and back cover copy. That way, we could take you ‘behind the scenes’ of the book launch, while we also told you about Pat’s book.

Click the audio player to listen to the interview:
Shelagh Jones Interviews Lynn Serafinn about writing blurbs for your book

If you cannot see the audio player on your screen, click here to open or download the MP3.

In our 13 1/2 minute interview together, Shelagh and I touched upon these topics:

  1. What is a book blurb and who is it for?
  2. Why is a book blurb so important?
  3. Why do authors think they can do it themselves?
  4. What happens when we think TOO outside the box when writing our blurb?
  5. Why is it important for someone other than the author to write the blurb?
  6. Where do you need to start when writing a book blurb?
  7. What do readers need to see in your blurb before they buy your book?
  8. How does your book blurb differ from a sales letter?
  9. What is the single most important thing you need to ‘zero in’ on before writing your blurb?
  10. What are the 4 steps that go into a book blurb?
  11. How do you make your back cover copy from your blurb?
  12. How do you submit your book blurb so it gets distributed to Amazon, etc.?
  13. What are the technical considerations for your book blurb and back cover copy?
  14. What is the difference between a POD (print-on-demand) company and a subsidiary press (self-publishing) company?
  15. What are the different levels of help these companies will give you?
  16. Why is it worth budgeting the money to get your blurb and back cover copy written for you?

BOOK - The Practical Guide to Figuring Yourself Out by Pat Honiotes

So that you see what we’ve been talking about, here’s the ‘back cover blurb’ I made for Pat’s book (you can see the complete wholesaler blurb when you check out the book on Amazon). This should also give you a feel for how all the elements we discussed in the interview come together when you write your back cover copy. I’ve put it in blue to make it easier to see where it begins and ends.

### BEGIN BACK COVER COPY ###

“Why Do I Feel So STUCK?”

You’ve played life by the “rules”. You’re a responsible person. You’re educated. You work hard. You have friends and family. But something isn’t quite right. Life is good, but not great. Things are stable, but not exciting. You like your job, but you don’t feel stretched or challenged. You’re making money, but you don’t feel abundant. You’re reasonably healthy, but not truly vibrant. Your relationships are OK, but deep inside, you crave more connection and intimacy with those you love.

The Practical Guide to Figuring Yourself Out is a book for people who feel like they’ve been ‘doing’ life instead of living it. In this book, author Pat Honiotes MS has amalgamated over three decades of professional experience in medical hypnoanalysis and personal empowerment coaching to bring you a one-of-a-kind, step-by-step handbook of techniques and practices that can help you figure out where, why and how you’re stuck in life, and create a unique, personalized action plan for change.

In this book, you’ll discover:

  • How to achieve greater connection in your personal and professional relationships
  • How to attain career goals you always felt were beyond your reach
  • How to communicate in a more mature and empowered way
  • How to detect your own ‘symptoms’ before they become major issues
  • And much more

If you’re ready to get UNSTUCK now, read
The Practical Guide to Figuring Yourself Out

### END COPY ###

I hope you found this interview useful, and that you also check out Pat’s book. You can get the book at http://www.figuringyourselfout.com.

Lynn Serafinn
6 November 2013

P.S.: If you’d like to read more about writing blurbs for your book, you might find my article ‘How to Write Good Blurbs and Back Pages for Your Book‘ to be helpful.

P.P.S.: If you’d like to discuss hiring us to make a blurb, back cover copy, bio and/or media kit for YOUR book, drop us a line via the contact form on this site.


 

LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn   @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

 

eBook reader on book shelfE-book author Erica Martin interviews book marketer Lynn Serafinn about her top marketing tips for authors with a small (or non-existent) marketing budget.

Next to writing a great e-book, effectively marketing your e-book is probably the  most crucial step to getting sales.  But many people, myself included, don’t have a lot of money to spend on e-book marketing.  That’s why this week I’m excited to publish a guest post by e-book marketer Lynn Serafinn, where she answers some of my questions about e-book marketing on a budget.

Erica: How did you get started in e-book marketing?

Lynn: First, I just want to clarify that I don’t just work in eBook marketing, but in online book marketing in general. I actually got started (as many who do book marketing do) by learning how to promote my own books. I attended many seminars, both online and in person. I learned the best and rejected the worst (least ethical) ways to market a book. Then, in 2009, I launched my first (paperback) book using the online marketing strategies I had honed and it became a bestseller. Soon after, someone asked me to write an article about my process on their book marketing blog. From that, I got my first book launch client. I got her to #1 bestseller status. After that, I had a steady stream of clients coming my way, all wanting to use my services. Since then, our company has grown and I have a team of 6 others who help me create book launches. We also offer other services such as online platform building for the author just starting out. Lately, a lot of authors have also been hiring me to write the copy for them that goes on their online book pages (on Amazon, etc.).

Erica: What are your thoughts on using fiverr to find someone to do e-book marketing? Is it potentially a good resource or can an e-book author do it themselves for cheaper?

Lynn: Honestly? I’ve never used these services and any time one of my clients has hired via these types of sites they often get ‘budget’ quality support. For me, ‘doing e-book/book marketing’ is about designing a strategy and developing a regular practice with it. I think budget assistants can help you implement the ‘legwork’ of your strategies, but they cannot ‘do’ marketing for you.

When I work with an author, I work with them to find out about the heart and soul of the book they are writing. What is the message? Who is most likely going to want to read it and why? Who is the author as a ‘brand’? What else (besides their book) does the author have for their audience? What is the bigger aim of the author’s business? Is it just about writing books or is there something else? How can we make this a long-term sustainable enterprise for them? These kinds of considerations are what distinguish successful authors from struggling ones, even if they are self-published.

Based upon the answer to these (and many other) questions, the author and I then build an online marketing strategy. At that point, and only then, when we are really clear about what needs to be done, you might approach hiring Virtual Assistants to help you.

From experience, I know that looking for the cheapest price can often end up costing you more in the long term. I’ve had several clients who chose to hire ‘budget’ assistants from sites like fiverr or eLance thinking this was the best way to go. They see a price of $4 an hour as opposed to $50 an hour and think it’s a bargain. But honestly, I have never seen budget hires actually save money (or time) for my clients, because while they might understand basic graphic design or basic social media principles, they don’t understand marketing at all. One of my clients paid hundreds to get her website designed by a budget hire. It looked very pretty but it was completely non-functional from a marketing and customer experience perspective. She ended up having to spend a whole lot more to get it sorted out. Another hired a budget assistant to work on getting her followers on Twitter. When I looked at her followers, about 50% either didn’t speak English (which was my client’s language) or were inactive accounts. It took me weeks to clean up her account and rebuild. Another client hired a cheap assistant who immediately got her account ‘stuck’ by following too many people too quickly, and she had no way to help my client to undo the damage. The stories go on and on.

I think the best ‘budget’ marketing is to learn as much as you can yourself, either by spending a little more to hire a marketing strategist who comes highly recommended to guide you. You should also read as many articles and books on book marketing as you can, and attend webinars on the subject. Know that you do NOT need to use everyone’s ideas if they don’t resonate with you. The best and most natural marketing is when you combine the best ideas of others with your own style and make it feel good to you.

Once an author knows how to create a good marketing strategy, he/she can then direct their hired help to implement it. But if you rely upon cheap hires to create a marketing strategy for you, you will only end up wasting your time and money, and are likely to get discouraged.

Erica: Everything I’ve read says that the most important tool for marketing a Kindle book is the Kindle book page – what tips can you give for writing a good book description?

Lynn: Writing a great book description (sometimes called a ‘wholesaler description’ or ‘wholesaler blurb’) is extremely important and, again, it’s a marketing issue. I have many clients who hire me JUST to write their book descriptions (called ‘copy writing’). It’s often difficult for an author to be objective about their book, and see it through their potential reader’s eyes.

This is a big subject, so rather than diving deeply into this here, Erica, I’d like to direct your readers to an article I wrote on this very subject called ‘How to Write Good Blurbs and Back Pages for Your Book’. In that article I go step-by-step through the process of writing a good book blurb that speaks to the audience rather than from a subjective perspective.

Your readers can find the complete article at http://spiritauthors.com/news/how-to-write-good-blurbs-and-back-pages-for-your-book/

Erica: Do you have any tips or suggestions for e-book authors with a small (or non-existent) marketing budget?

Lynn: In my experience, marketing is not just a monetary issue for authors; the truth is, they don’t really want to spend time on marketing. Many also imagine that if they can get a publishing deal, their marketing woes are over. This is a gross misunderstanding. Most publishers these days won’t sign you unless they see you already have a strong marketing platform established. The reality is that the modern authors simply must take ownership of their marketing, and build marketing into their business routine and their budget. That said, online book marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up all your time IF authors are willing to study and learn how to do it themselves, or learn just enough about it to direct their assistants to support them.

For me, the best, cheapest and most long-term book marketing strategy is to:

  1. Develop a large body of great blog and/or video content
  2. Drive traffic to this content through social media
  3. Develop a consistent, ‘do-able’ social media strategy
  4. Syndicate your content to article directories and other relevant blogs
  5. Watch your stats and make sure your site’s SEO is working for you
  6. Develop business relationships and build collaborations with others you meet on social media

Of course, there are other things you can do like organise virtual blog tours, radio tours and big book launches. I do these things for many clients. But these are far more expensive marketing choices because they require the help of other people (and these people need to be experienced). You don’t necessarily need these glossier marketing strategies if you devotedly focus on the ‘slow burn’ instead of the ‘big flash’, and are willing to wait for the results.

If you aim towards developing a consistent, continually evolving, long-term reputation, you will eventually see a tipping point where your books start to sell consistently. Your older books will experience an increase in sales every time you bring out a new title, and you’ll start to make a steady income from your books. The key is to stick with it. In my experience, most authors start to make real money after they’ve published their THIRD book. Keep writing. Keep building.

Erica: What other marketing resources can you suggest for e-book authors who are on a budget?

Lynn: I have dozens of free articles on book marketing on my Spirit Authors website at http://spiritauthors.com. I try to publish a new article every Wednesday (although with my busy schedule, that can get tough sometimes!). Authors can subscribe for free and receive these info articles via email every week. They can even get Spirit Authors articles delivered directly to their Kindle for 99 cents a month.

Authors may also wish to check out my book Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically, which is available in paperback and Kindle (other eBook formats coming in September).

The can also get loads of online book marketing ideas from my free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

And, of course, if authors are looking for some guidance, we offer a platform-building package for authors. It’s not a ‘budget’ package, but we really do provide a great service. Your readers can read about this at http://spiritauthors.com/hire-us-for-your-book-launch/ and then drop me a line via the contact form on the website if they’d like to discuss it.

I hope this information was helpful to your readers, Erica. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.

This article originally appeared on Erica Martin’s blog ‘My eBook Journey’ on August 6th, 2013 at  http://myebookjourney.com/ebook-marketing-getting-the-word-out-on-a-budget/


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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn   @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Word Branch LogoLynn Serafinn interviews the founder of Word Branch about their innovative cooperative publishing model. Could co-ops be a viable model for indie authors?

Last month, I stumbled upon a press release with the headline ‘Indie Publishing Company Succeeds with Unique Business Model’. As I’m interested in the publishing world as well as new business models, I had to check it out. I found out about a company called Word Branch (http://wordbranch.com), who describe themselves as ‘an independent publishing company that represents talented new and up and coming authors who need a venue to make their voices heard.’ Word Branch Publishing (WBP) is located in the heart of Appalachia in North Carolina and specializes in working authors in a variety of genres including science fiction, fantasy, spiritual, and young adult. But what I found most interesting was the fact that they use a cooperative business model. No one on the WBP team draws a salary—all team members work for a portion of the royalties, banking on the books becoming successes.

I was curious to know more. How well does this model work? How does the business stay afloat? Where did the idea come from? So, I sent an email to WBP founder Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh and asked her if she would do a ‘virtual interview’ for our Spirit Authors readers. Graciously, she said yes. Below are her generous answers to the questions I sent her. Given I’ve been writing so much about self-publishing lately, I think her insights and experiences will be very interesting to anyone who has either been thinking of setting up a publishing company, or who is looking for one.

I welcome your feedback and comments below (and I’ll ask Catherine to reply to any that are directed to her).

WBP INTERVIEW

Lynn: You said in the press release you had a professional background in both self-publishing and marketing. Tell us a bit about your experience before you started Word Branch.

Catherine: I have a Master’s in literature and writing and had wanted to get a PhD to make a career out of teaching at the college level. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the time wasn’t right, and it never came to fruition. I have, however, 20 years experience of teaching college-level writing part time. My ‘day job’ has always been in marketing, mostly promotion, in a variety of industries including publishing.

Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh

Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh

Lynn: When and why did you get the idea to create an alternative type of publisher?

Catherine: After my husband retired from a 27-year career as a police detective in 2008, we moved to a remote mountain in western North Carolina. I knew that I was unlikely to find anything in marketing in the area so I created CRT Writing, which evolved into CRT Commercial Media, under which I did freelance writing. I was writing for a federal contract with the Small Business Administration when the funding ran out, and I wanted to try something different. In 2011, e-books were really starting to take off, and I was intrigued by the idea that self-publishing was not only a realistic possibility but that it empowers the writer to take control of his or her own book selling. I began self-publishing a series of books called The Guides for the Befuddled on topics of writing and literature and my book The Field Guide to Telecommuting. At the prodding of some friends, I registered Word Branch Publishing, and I began publishing other authors.

From my own experience in the publishing industry, I knew that I couldn’t compete with the major players, nor did I want to become just like them. I saw an industry that, although steeped in tradition, was bloated and inefficient. I also saw that big houses were forced into making major changes to stay in business because of e-publishing and advances in print-on-demand publishing.

I also knew that not only did I not have the capital to begin a traditional publishing company—office and warehouse space, a staff of editors, proofreaders and artists, massive print runs—I didn’t want to emulate a system that I saw as outdated and badly damaged, if not broken. I think our timing was right; instead of trying to catch up, we are leading the pack.

Lynn: Can you describe how the cooperative business model for Word Branch works? Why is this important?

Catherine: It is literally a cooperative of dedicated and talented people working toward the success of the books we publish. Although this isn’t a new idea, as a for-profit publishing company, I haven’t seen one that works in the same way. Everyone involved, including me, works only for a percentage of the royalty. This takes a tremendous leap of faith since this is the first time most of our authors have been published. We also all work remotely, and since I wrote a book on telecommuting, this seems only natural. This way we can tap into talent anywhere. To keep our costs down, all books are electronically published, which is the backbone of the company, and most are published as print-on-demand (POD) paperbacks as well. Not only does this keep shipping costs down and eliminate warehouse space, but it also keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum which is part of WBP’s commitment. In addition, it allows us to return a greater portion of the profits to the writers and support—some of the highest in the industry.

Lynn: How many authors/books have you published so far? Do you have a specific niche?

Catherine: Currently we are working with 11 authors who have a total of 24 books. I’m in the process of signing several more including our first European author. We don’t have a specific niche; although, WBP tends to publish more science fiction and young adult.

Lynn: What’s your biggest success story to date?

Catherine: I think all of our authors are success stories, but there are some rising stars. Stacy Bender was our first author to be published, and I have seen her grow as a writer and really branch out into new areas. Currently, she and writer Reid Minnich are editing a science fiction anthology for WBP as well as writing their own books. Young adult writer Jeri Maynard, who writes under the name jerjonji, has found a loyal following of not only teens but readers of all ages. She also has a made-for-TV movie from one of her screenplays being produced in Asia. Michael Hawk Spisak’s Full Circle has become a real cult classic with devoted followers.

Lynn: You say your staff doesn’t take a salary. How does that work? How do you ensure everyone (including your company) can ‘pay the rent’?

Catherine: When anyone approaches me about working with Word Branch, I make it very clear that there are no guarantees and by no means can this be considered a full-time job—yet. They understand that any money coming in may be minimal in the beginning and will take time to accrue. As a result, we have a very dedicated team who not only work hard as editors and readers but as marketers too. The more successful a book is, the more money they can make. In addition, everyone works as an independent contractor so they guide how much time they can afford to put into WBP.

Since we are a young company, I do what nearly all entrepreneurs do—I don’t take any money from WBP and I put all of my own royalties back into the company while we are in the building phase. I’ve also dragged my husband out of retirement to lend a hand. His support has been essential to our success. I anticipate from the amount of current sales that by our third year in business, we should be solvent and debt free, quite a feat for any company.

While we have a number of committed people working with us, I have to give special credit to the person who has been instrumental in giving Word Branch Publishing a unique look: artist Julian Norwood. He came to me in the beginning as a newly graduated art student and promised me covers that stand out, and he has fulfilled that promise and more. Nearly all of our covers are created from original paintings just as the classic covers were decades ago. I don’t know of any publishing company, large or small, that can make that claim. Because we haven’t fallen into the trap of generic stock photo covers, we stand out from other publishing companies.

Lynn: You mentioned to me that when you worked in marketing, you found ethics to be frequently missing. Can you comment more on that, with specific reference to the publishing industry?

Catherine: I think because marketing can be hotly competitive, it’s easy to rationalize crossing ethical lines for the sake of profits. Without naming specific companies, I know that I have felt extremely uncomfortable with some market research practices, and I have left a few jobs because of it. I worked for an international publishing company that had a fairly good moral compass, but even then, there were some issues I wasn’t comfortable with. While marketing is, of course, a good part of what I do with WBP, I am always aware that if I can’t sleep, I need to re-assess my marketing plan.

Lynn: What do you envision for Word Branch in the next 5 years?

Catherine: If we continue to grow at the rate we have since our inception in early 2012, I see very good things happening very quickly. We have just launched a paid services option for self publishers who want to keep their rights. This is through the original company, CRT Commercial Media, and we offer an a la carte plan of editing, illustration and proofreading options. I also plan on offering an alternative for self-published authors to become affiliates in our online book shop and be able to sell their books through WBP without signing with us.

In 2014, I see us publishing at least 15 new books and looking at different media as well. Authors Stacy Bender and Jeri Maynard are looking into producing graphic novels, and we are considering adding recorded books.

Lynn: What’s the biggest change you’d like to see in the world of publishing in the coming decade? What role do you think Word Branch will play in that?

Catherine: I think we began seeing enormous changes a few years ago. The growing popularity of e-books sent some big publishers scrambling to make changes. Most downsized and re-directed their focus, and those that didn’t failed. Because of this, they became even more wary of taking on new authors, and it became increasingly difficult to get published. At the same time, e-publishing and POD made it easier for authors to self-publish. But then authors were not only faced with maneuvering through the maze of legalities and formalities that come with publishing, they also were in charge of their own marketing, and it was a shock to many that publishing their own books didn’t mean that people were lining up to buy them.

I believe that’s where small publishers fill the gap, and I see the rise of the small house as a renaissance in publishing. I think in the future the old system that made it nearly impossible for small publishers will begin to conform to a changing market. We are already seeing that now. Bowker is selling ISBNs in smaller quantities; Ingram, one of the largest book distributors, has a POD option, and the Library of Congress is making provisions for smaller publishers. Recently, Books-a-Million announced that they will have POD machines in their stores, and I see this as a huge step forward for small publishers without the waste and financial burden there is now. If this catches on, it will also force distributors to change as well.

Lynn: Do you have any more words of wisdom (or inspiration) for anyone who might be thinking of setting up a publishing company?

Catherine: Haha—I’m not sure that wisdom is involved in starting a publishing company. I tell people that I ‘accidently’ started a publishing company, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the time we have been in business. Like any small business, it takes determination, positive thinking and a certain amount of sacrifice. I would say, learn as much as you can from classes and books, but be aware that much of what you need to know isn’t readily available. You’re entering a profession steeped in 500 years of tradition, and sometimes it takes sheer bull-headedness just to break through barriers.

Despite the hard work and long hours, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve met outstanding people in our authors, dedicated optimists in our editors and readers and forged a friendship with our illustrator. I wake up every morning thinking how lucky I am, and I’m filled with excitement for the future.

~ END OF INTERVIEW ~

I’d like to thank Catherine for the terrific interview. I’ll confess I had a bit of an ulterior motive in that I’m interested in trying this model with Humanity 1 Press, as we start to expand. Like Catherine, I’ve seen many authors want to take back control of their titles, but at the same time they feel overwhelmed by the enormous challenge of the self-publishing and marketing process. Catherine’s candid sharing of her experiences at WBP has really been helpful in giving us a deeper look into the next generation of publishing. I hope any sci-fi and Young Adult authors reading this will check her companies out at:

Word Branch Publishing: http://wordbranch.com

CRT Commercial Media: http://crtwriting.com

Twitter: WordBranch1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WordBranchPublishing


Lynn Serafinn
1st August 2013

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn   @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

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Book marketer Lynn Serafinn shares her tips for making a professional-looking book layout that creates an enjoyable experience for your readers. Part 5 of a 5-part series on self-publishing.

In the previous four blog posts, I’ve been sharing my 10-part checklist for self-publishing. So far we’ve covered ‘must do’ items 1-9:

We’ve finally reached the end of our checklist! Here’s what we’ll be looking at today:

Must-Do #10: Formatting, Uploading and Ordering Your Proof

So let’s get started.

Why It’s CRUCIAL to Give Attention to the Interior Layout of Your Book

One of the most common criticisms self-published books receive is that the formatting looks shoddy and unprofessional. Nonetheless, when new self-publishing clients come to me, I often find that formatting is frequently the last thing on their mind. Typically, they’re far more concerned with the message of the book and about getting a good cover than they are about the aesthetic experience their readers will have as they turn the pages.

While a beautiful cover is an invitation to your readers to pick it up and check it out, a poor interior layout will cause these same readers to close the book and STOP reading. Even if your content is the definitive revelation of the mysteries of the Universe, poor attention to font styles, sizes and line spacing contribute greatly to the physiological impact of a person’s reading experience. Lack of attention to ‘pause points’ where you break up the text with sub-headers (for non-fiction) or little glyphs/images, can deprive your readers of breathing space and make it difficult for them to absorb and locate relevant information.

About 5 years ago, I created a basic ‘house style’ for my own books. I know this style works because I have received dozens of letters from readers who have told me things like:

  • ‘Wow, I’ve never read a 400 page book so quickly’ or
  • ‘I literally couldn’t stop reading’ or
  • ‘I found your book so easy to read’.

While you might think these kinds of statements are reflections on the content or writing style of the books, I believe they are equally reflective of the layout. A clear, clean and ‘spacious’ layout that delivers an aesthetically pleasing visual experience can keep your readers reading. A bad layout can make readers fatigued, unfocussed and just plain bored, even if they are interested in the topic. Ask any skilled designer and they will confirm this.

The bottom line is this: even if a million people buy your book, unless they enjoy the experience of reading (hopefully to the end), they won’t remember it or talk about it to others.

DIY or Hire Someone?

Knowing how important your interior layout is, it’s crucial you make the right decision about who is going to format your book—you or a professional. This decision really depends upon two things:

  • Whether or not you have the technical skills and software to do it
  • Whether you have the time, patience and interest to learn how to do it right

At this point, it’s also important to add that formatting for paperback is entirely different from formatting for eBook formats. Furthermore, formatting for Kindle is significantly different from formatting for Smashwords. Below, we’ll look at a few considerations for all of these scenarios.

Preparing for Paperback

Most professionals who do interior book layout use InDesign or similar programmes. Back in the ‘old days’ (10 years ago) I used to use Adobe PageMaker. These kinds of programmes are generally necessary if you intend to use offset printing.

However, for digital printing, such as those used in POD (print-on-demand) services like Lightning Source, you can actually format your paperback book in Word and convert it to high-resolution PDF. If you’ve done it correctly, the print book will look exactly as it does in the PDF.

Using Word doesn’t necessarily mean your book will look less professional than if you used InDesign IF you know what you’re doing. I’ve formatted at least a half-dozen books using Word (for myself and my clients), and I’ve had several major publishers tell me that they looked really professional.  None of them guessed I had used Word for my layout (which is when you know you’ve done a good job).

It’s beyond the scope of this article to write a detailed ‘how to’ for formatting your book in Word, but here are some basics:

  • Plan ahead. For non-fiction books, be sure to organise your book into clear sections, chapters and sub-headings within the chapters.
  • Define and use formatting styles in Word. Most people who use Word will format every word or paragraph individually. Word has the capability of defining styles (similar to the idea of CSS style sheets on websites).  Spend some time getting to know how to use these styles and plan out the styles for your book. It makes formatting much easier and more consistent,
  • Define headers, footers and page numbers carefully.  Ensuring there are different styles for odd/even pages and first pages of sections can make your book look much more professional.
  • Use section breaks and page breaks. Putting section breaks for each chapter can help you organise your headers and footers, and ensure all your chapters start on an odd numbered page (on the right side as you’re looking at the book). Again, be SURE you understand how to use these properly because you can end up making a mess of your headers and footers if you don’t.
  • Use branded glyphs/graphics as dividers. It’s always a nice touch to use some sort of graphic to put at the beginning and/or end of chapters. This should be something ‘branded’, i.e., something that relates to the cover of your book. For example, for my book Tweep-e-licious, I used the image of the Twitter bird that appears on the cover of the book.
  • Use high-res (300 dpi) images. For print, images should be 300 dots per inch or they’ll look blurry or fuzzy. Images you got from the Internet are typically 72-96 dpi.
  • PRINT your finished layout and check it MULTIPLE times. NEVER send your final layout to the printer until you’ve seen it in a hard-copy. Print out your entire book and check everything including headers and footers, section breaks, consistency of where chapters start, etc. And don’t forget to check that your Table of Contents (TOC) has the right pages listed. Circle in RED any mistakes you find and meticulously correct them in your manuscript, checking them off as you go along. Then, after it’s all fixed, print the whole book out AGAIN and check it one more time.
  • Use a commercial quality PDF converter. For digital printing, you need to convert your book to a 300dpi version PDF. Be sure to embed all fonts. Word 2013 has this capability. If your version of Word cannot do this, you might need to buy a PDF converter or ask someone else to do it for you.

Ebook Formatting

I spoke a bit about the different eBook formats (and also their royalties, etc) in my previous article EEEEEE-Books!! 5 Top Questions – A Short Intro to Digital Media for Authors Who Haven’t Got a Clue.

Once again, you can do it yourself, but if you haven’t done it before, or you don’t have time to learn how to do it, I strongly recommend hiring a highly recommended professional for this. You might start by asking other authors, or by checking Smashwords’ list of Independent Smashwords Formatters and Cover Designers.

If you decide to do it yourself, be sure you read the style guides for your chosen eBook distributors.

I’ve done all the formatting for my Kindle eBooks as well as those of many of my clients. Amazon says you can upload a plain Word Doc, but really it’s not so straightforward. The first few times I did it, I had to upload my book several times before I got it right. In the end, I opted to create an HTML file, as I feel comfortable with HTML code, and I can troubleshoot most issues more easily in it than in the messy code of MS Word. Using a good HTML editor (I use Dreamweaver) has many advantages over Word when you’re making sure your images are placed properly, your font styles are displaying correctly and your hyperlinks within the document are working right.

Just as you did with your print layout formatting, it’s important to think carefully about the experience you want your eBook readers to have when they read your book. For example, if the print version of your book has a lot of footnotes or references, you’ll need to hyperlink directly to these references from the body text. That way, the reader can move quickly to the reference without having to scroll through your entire book.

You should also hyperlink from your TOC to your chapter headings. I did this for my books the 7 Graces of Marketing and Tweep-e-licious. The latter presented an even bigger challenge because it’s a reference book, containing 158 Twitter Tips. For someone who is reading the paperback, they can easily flip back and forth between the TOC and the relevant page number of the tip they want to view. I did my best to replicate this experience by listing EVERY tip in the TOC, and hyperlinking directly to where it appeared in the book. Then, at the end of every tip, I put a hyperlink that said ‘Back to Table of Contents’ so people could jump back to the list. This took me a LONG time to do, but it really paid out in the end product because it allowed my eBook readers to use the book as it had been intended—for reference.

Lightening Source (LSI) also has eBook distribution services, but their formats are very limited. I think if you stick with the two distributors above you should be able to cover all the bases.

NOTE: You cannot use the same ISBN for your eBooks as you did for your print book. Also, each of the above eBook formats will need a UNIQUE ISBN.  Smashwords also requires you say ‘Smashwords version’ on your front pages, so as to distinguish it from other versions. Please read more information about this in their free Smashwords Style Guide.

Uploading Your Materials and Getting Your Proof

Each of the above self-publishing formats has different requirements for uploading. I won’t go into uploading your materials to Kindle or Smashwords, because they have all that information on their websites, but here are a few key points for Lightning Source.

For Lightning Source (LSI)

For your print version at LSI, you’ll need to submit:

  • The Interior of your book as high-res PDF
  • The Cover/spine/back of your book as PDF

My experience is that some browsers get ‘hung up’ when trying to upload materials to LSI. I recommend uploading via Google Chrome, as I have had the best luck with it.

At the time of uploading, be SURE you request a proof copy of your book. The last time I checked, this was about $40 USD.  You should receive it within a week. Go through this proof CAREFULLY. Look for obvious errors like unplanned blank pages, missing images or weird characters. If there are errors, you’ll have to go back to your layout and make corrections and re-upload and request another proof.

NEVER, EVER, EVER approve a title until you are holding a finished copy in your hands that is free of errors. If you rush the proofing process, all your good effort will have gone to waste. Take your time. Breathe. The world can wait one more day for your book to come out.

Once your proof is approved, your title will be fed/distributed to wholesalers (Amazon) for sale. The book will automatically appear on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. within a couple of weeks. It will say it’s ‘out of stock’ but don’t worry. This is normal. See my article, How to Kick Start Your Book Sales – Part 2 for information on how to get your book to appear ‘in stock’.

And that’s it! You are now a (self) published author! Congratulations.

Now, all you need to know about is how to market your book. And for that, I hope you’ll take a look around this blog and subscribe so you can receive all our future info articles.

And lastly, if you need one-to-one personal help with your self-publishing or book marketing journey, drop us a line via the contact form on this website.

Lynn Serafinn
24th July 2013

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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

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Lynn Serafinn shares a template for writing good marketing copy for your wholesalers, and discusses what to put on the back cover and back pages of your book. Part 4 of a 5-part series on self-publishing.

Over the past month, I’ve been sharing my 10 ‘Must Do’s’ of self-publishing. So far we’ve covered:

The problem is, I keep thinking of more things to say! First it was going to be a single article. Then, 2 parts… 3 parts… 4 parts. Today I finally decided it needed to be a 5-part series. Today is Part 4. In this article, we’ll be looking at:

Must-Do #9: Blurbs, back cover and back pages

So here we go!

How Your Book is an INVITATION

Your book is not just a book. It is an invitation. First, you are inviting your reader into a new space, where you make them a promise to deliver something they want. Secondly, it is an invitation for them to become more deeply connected with you beyond the pages of your book.

To ensure your book is an effective invitation, you need three vital components:

  • A powerful book description (‘blurb’) for wholesalers
  • An equally powerful back cover blurb (if publishing a printed version)
  • Attractive ‘back pages’ that attract the reader to explore more

Let’s look at each of these, respectively.

Your Wholesalers’ Blurb – technical considerations

The wholesalers’ ‘blurb’ is the words that are fed automatically from your distributor (for example, Lightning Source) to wholesalers and online retailers about your book. In Lightning Source, they also refer to this as the ‘meta’.

Different distributors have different ‘rules’ and specifications for their blurbs:

  • Most have a character limit. For example, Lightning Source has a limit of 4000 characters (including spaces) for their ‘meta’.
  • Some (like Lightning Source) require you to input HTML code for the blurb to read properly. If you don’t, when it appears on Amazon or other websites all the paragraphs in your blurb will be run together into one long block of text. This looks unreadable (and unprofessional) on people’s computer screens, so it’s vital to prepare your HTML properly before submitting your blurb.
  • Note that any character limits INCLUDE your html coding. So if your limit is 4000 characters, try to stick to around 2500 characters of text/spaces when you’re writing the blurb. That way the extra characters from your HTML code won’t take it over the limit.
  • Some companies will accept Word docs and your formatting will (or should) carry over to the online version.

Before starting to write your blurb, be sure you address these details with your distributor or subsidiary publisher, so you don’t end up disappointed.

TRICK: I discovered that the HTML tags <h2></h2> will translate into a lovely header on Amazon that uses its ‘house style’ orange colour.

Your Wholesalers’ Blurb – writing your copy

It’s important that your blurb is constructed properly so that you will attract the attention of the right customers when they read it online. Think of your book as a journey. People will ‘embark’ on the journey when they start to read it. However, you have to remember that they’ve been on their own journey long before they found your book, and something has led them to find you.

Any copy for a non-fiction book must address and acknowledge where your readers have come from, where they are now, and where you are going to take them. Here’s a rough template of how your blurb should go. Be sure to make each section SHORT with 2-3 sentences maximum in each:

  1. HEADLINE/BIG IDEA: Start with a headline that addresses the ‘big idea’ of the book. Make it short and to the point. Some people recommend putting keywords in your headline. That can be a very useful idea to help get your book to appear in searches, but be sensible about this, and don’t just ‘stuff’ your headline with keywords if they don’t actually convey the ‘big idea’.
  2. THE DESIRE: In your first paragraph, talk to your reader. What’s the journey they’ve been on? What are they looking for? What are the challenges they have faced?
  3. THE PROMISE: In the next paragraph, give a broad view of how THIS book addresses what the reader is looking for.
  4. EVIDENCE: In the next paragraph, give specific examples of how the book delivers on the promise. You might say something like, ‘You’ll learn X, Y, Z, etc.’ This is a good place to use a bullet-pointed list to make it easier for people to absorb.
  5. CREDIBILITY:  Somewhere in your text (it could come in the ‘evidence’ part) bring in your credibility. For example: ‘Mary Smith draws upon more than 20 years in the holistic wellness field to give you…’
  6. USP: This stands for ‘unique selling point’. After you’ve given the ‘evidence’, people are going to start asking ‘Yeah…so what?’ There are countless other books on the market in your niche. Why is THIS BOOK different? What’s the angle? What does it do that no other book does?
  7. BONUS MATERIALS: If your book contains a link to any bonus materials, such as a downloadable MP3, worksheets, etc., here’s the place to mention them.
  8. END RESULT: Close your blurb with a simple, one-sentence rewording of ‘the promise’, reminding them of what they will gain from reading the book, and assure them that if they’re looking for X (‘the desire’) they’ll find it here.

ADVICE: Avoid schmoozy hype and over-blown descriptors in your copy. Don’t use words like ‘amazing’, ‘life-changing’, ‘incredible’ etc. Just tell people about the book. Remember: it’s an invitation, not a demand.

Making a good blurb for your wholesalers’ description requires skill and practice. It’s not something you should do flippantly or hurriedly. Get other people to read it and make sure it’s proofread. AND, if you’ve never done one before, you might have to do it a few times before it actually looks right on Amazon and has the right effect.

Your Back Cover Blurb

Your back cover copy is also an invitation. This time, it’s an invitation to readers who may be physically picking up your book in a book shop or at a book event.

Essentially, your back cover blurb should be a (significantly) reduced version of your wholesalers’ blurb. For it to fit, you’ll probably have to cut it down by as much as two-thirds, depending upon your layout. Make sure you have at least one line from each of the 8 parts of the template above, but strip it WAY back.

Leave room on your cover for other elements:

  • A short (50-75 word) author bio and headshot
  • 2-3 endorsements (see Part 3 of this series)
  • Your bar code and price

Your Back Pages

While the above ‘blurbs’ are invitations for your readers to step into your book, the back pages of your book must be an invitation for your readers to step into a deeper connection with you. These should not be big blasting sales pages but information that can help the reader do any (or all) of the following:

  • Read more about you (i.e. your ‘about the author’ page)
  • Find/buy more of your books
  • Sign up to receive a free offer of some kind
  • Join an online community you lead
  • Listen to a radio show you host
  • Get involved in a project you are doing
  • Find out more about courses you deliver
  • Contact you for a private consultation
  • Connect with you on social media

TIPS:

  • For long links, use a shortener like http://bit.ly and then customise the link (example: http://bit.ly/TweepKindleUS is a custom link to buy the Kindle version of my book Tweep-e-licious on Amazon US).
  • While providing your readers with links is important, for print books (not eBooks) you might consider using QR codes as well.
  • Don’t just use words; show pictures of your books or logos of your show, etc.

NEED HELP?

While many self-published authors feel confident with writing book blurbs, many others find it challenging to distil the thoughts and language of their book into marketing copy. Others don’t know how to use HTML or how to ‘chunk’ the information visually so it becomes easily digestible on a computer screen.

Writing blurbs is something I do all the time for my clients, and some even hire me solely for this purpose. I spend a long private session interviewing you so I can extract the real ‘promise’ of your book and your work, and to get a real feel for the ‘desire’ of your ideal audience. I’ve repeatedly been told my copy writing really captures the essence of my clients’ work in an authentic way. On the technical side, I’m also great with HTML. I’ve been using it every day in my work for years. My MA is in distance education, and about 10 years ago, and as part of my degree I had to create a pretty complex educational web directory using only HTML code).

So if you’re in need of a help in these areas, give me a shout and we can set up an appointment to chat about it. Just drop me a line via the contact form on this site: http://spiritauthors.com/contact

And, of course, if you’d like to discuss building a marketing platform for your book, an Amazon book launch or any other marketing help, give me a shout too.

I do hope you’ve found this article useful. Let me know what you thought about it (or ask me any questions you might have) in the comments below.

AND…subscribe to this blog if you want to be sure to get Part 5 (finally) of this series, where we’ll be looking at:

Must-Do #10: Formatting, Uploading and Ordering Your Proof

Lynn Serafinn
17th July 2013

Happy birthday to my mother, Margaret, who would have been 90 years old today if she were still alive. Thanks for teaching me all about grammar, Mom.

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog

Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

 

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

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Author consultant Lynn Serafinn looks at the artistic rewards of self-publishing, how to work with an editor, and how to approach endorsers for your book.

I believe our digital era—digital printing, digital distribution and digital (online) marketing—has liberated independent authors from ‘needing’ to have publishers or subsidiary presses to publish their books. No longer must we feel at the mercy of big business to share our words, ideas and imagination.

I’m sure part of my passion for self-publishing comes from my many years as an indie musician, when I preferred to publish via my own record label than to be taken seriously by major record companies. Ironically, after years of thinking a record deal was my ‘goal’ in music, when our electro-trance band was offered a record deal in 1994 with one of the biggest labels on the planet (along with all the trappings like MTV videos and going on tour with big name acts), I suddenly realised I didn’t want it. The A&R guy (the person who signs the acts) was already trying to seize too much artistic control. I feared we would turn into something we were not and end up appealing to no one, only to be dumped by them a year later because we didn’t sell enough records. It happens all the time in the music industry.

I believe Madonna (whether you like her as an artist or not) took a sensible and fruitful approach to working with record labels. She started out as a pro-active, ambitious independent artist, highly focused on building her following. By the time record labels started to approach her, her identity (i.e., her ‘brand’) AND her fan base were so defined, record labels didn’t TRY to change her. Her clarity about who she was as an artist (even though it changed every year) and who her fans were meant that she gained a reputation as someone who was able to maintain artistic control even within a corporate environment. Later, she had enough clout (and money!) to break free from corporate influence altogether, and created her own record label. In a way, she went BACK to being an independent artist, the master of her own artistic destiny.

I believe Madonna’s career serves as a great lesson for authors in the digital era. Committing to being self-published, possibly for several years, while you put your attention into building your ‘brand’ and your fan base IS a highly sensible route. Then, you wait until you reach a ‘tipping point’ where a publisher might be able to take your sales to the next level AND you are a ready-made asset for a specific publisher (or niche of publishers). Only then is it the time to approach a major publisher. When you can show you have a clear market, a clear identity, a strong fan base and some marketing know-how, the ‘right’ publisher will sit up and take notice when you approach them (typically through a literary agent; but that’s another story).

Then again, maybe you don’t WANT a publisher after all. Maybe you’ll decide that self-publishing is actually better for you. Maybe you’ll develop a love for the entrepreneurial spirit and freedom of self-publishing. Maybe you’ll be so good at marketing and distribution (or you’ve outsourced great people to manage it for you) that you’ll start building a small empire with your books. Maybe you’ll even publish other authors.

Anyway…

That’s enough of the pep talk. I just wanted to take a moment to get you into the right state of mind before we get back to work.

Back to Our Checklist…

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been sharing my Top-10 ‘must do’ items for self-published authors. Here’s a quick review of what we’ve looked at so far. You can click the links below to read more about them.

In Part 1, we explored:

In Part 2, we took a detailed look at:

Today, in Part 3, we’ll be looking at the next two items on our ‘must do’ checklist:

So here we go!

Must-Do #7: Working Through Your Edits and Proofs

Many new authors think that once they finish their draft, their editor will ‘fix’ everything for them and that when they get their edit back from the editor, everything will be ready to publish.  This is a big misunderstanding of the role an editor plays in the publishing process.

While many new authors think editing is just a matter of correcting errors in grammar and spelling, it’s far more than that. A good editor will typically make suggestions for changes that will make your book tighter and more cohesive. They might recommend re-writing certain sections, changing the order of your ideas (or whole chapters). They might recommend that you elaborate on an idea, trim something down, or even delete parts that are redundant. They might point out inconsistencies in point-of-view, verb tense or continuity, and make suggestions for how to fix them.

An editor might notice certain idiosyncrasies in your writing that they ask you to address personally. For example, my editor told me to search through my ENTIRE manuscript to find every instance of certain adverbs I tended to overuse (like ‘really’, ‘quite’, ‘actually’ and similar fillers), and then delete as many of them as possible. This part of the process can be a real emotional journey for an author, especially if they have never worked with a good editor before. You might wonder why the editor didn’t do this herself. I’m glad she asked me to do it because a) it gave me the chance to decide which instances of these words should stay or go and b) it helped me improve as a writer. I notice that I am much more mindful of my ‘filler’ words since being challenged by my editor to address this issue.

Learn to relish the challenges your editor gives you as a valuable learning experience. Do not see his/her suggestions as criticisms but as tools to make you a better, more professional writer. This is why choosing the right editor is so important. A great editor is not only a master of words, but is also unafraid to ‘give it to you straight’.

Of course, you have to be prepared for this—emotionally AND in terms of time. BLOCK OUT a month of your time to go through your editors edits. Treat them with as much care and delight as you did when you wrote the first two drafts of your book.

After you make the changes your editor suggested, I strongly recommend sending the edited draft back to your editor (or to a proofreader, if you are using someone different) so they can go over it with a fine eye for typos, spelling and punctuation errors. Again, they will probably send the proofed draft to you using ‘track changes’ so you can approve the changes manually. That means you’ll need to block out another week of your time for this. Do NOT rush this process or do this when you’re tired. That’s when mistakes happen. Going through the corrections yourself manually (rather than trusting the proofreader to make the final call) is important in case they misinterpreted what a misspelled word was intended to be. Only you will be able to evaluate whether the corrections are actually ‘correct’.

Must-Do #8: Obtaining Endorsements for Your Book

Obtaining endorsements for your book before it comes out is an important part of your publishing process. The time to seek them actively is AFTER you’ve completed reworking the edits your editor gave you, but BEFORE the manuscript goes for final proofreading. Most endorsers are happy to read through an unproofed and semi-formatted PDF version of your book.

Your endorsers should be experts in the same or similar field as the subject of your book. Preferably, they should be other authors or other well-known personalities in the field. They could also be leaders within well-known and widely respected organisations related to your field. Some obvious candidates for endorsers would be people you cite or mention within your book. Others could be colleagues in your business networks (including your social networks).

Many new authors choke at the idea of asking for endorsements for their book. They worry about being rejected, or they worry they’ll look silly. But there really is no need to be shy about asking for an endorsement, as there is an incentive for people to give you one. After all, their name, book title and (possibly) website will go either inside your book or maybe even on the front or back cover. That’s free ‘advertising’ for them to their target audience.

Think of it this way: You want their endorsement because if their readers see them endorsing your book, they’ll think it might be of interest to them. But conversely, if your readers see your endorsers’ names mentioned in your book, they might think to check their books out too. You are happy, your endorsers are happy, and your readers are happy. It’s a win-win-win.

When you contact people asking for an endorsement, try to be mindful of the following details:

  • If you already know the person, all you really need to do is ask them if they’ll let you send them a copy of your new book, so they can write a short endorsement. At this point, just tell them the title of the book and the date you expect to be able to send it to them for review.
  • If you DON’T know the person, make the initial letter only slightly longer. Open by telling them who you are and why you are writing to them, specifically, i.e. you cited them in your book; you admire their work in their field and it is closely aligned with the topic of your book, etc. Then, ask permission to send the manuscript to them.
  • Give your potential endorsers a brief (one or two sentences) description of the book. Never, EVER use ‘sales language’ or hyped up words like ‘life-changing’, ‘amazing’, etc. Just tell them what the book is about.
  • Always assure your potential endorsers that they do NOT have to read the entire book.
  • Assure them that 1 or 2 lines of ‘blurb’ is perfectly fine. We are not asking them to write a review.
  • Assure them that their name, (one) book title and link to their website will be guaranteed to go into the front pages of your print book (I tend not to include them in eBooks)
  • Let them know that 3 of the most compelling endorsements will go on the back cover, and the most compelling will go on the front cover. Of course, you and your cover designer have to be ok with doing this before making that promise.
  • Assure them you will include these endorsements in promo materials you will be sending to radio shows, etc. (you never know; their book titles might catch someone’s attention).
  • Assure them you will post their endorsements WITH their web link on the book page of your website. This gives them a back link and more free promo.
  • Assure them you will give them a month to look at your book and get their blurb back to you.
  • Assure them that it’s ok to say no.

Below is some advice from author Erica Tucci, who has been very successful at getting many relevant and well-known endorsers for her books, including her upcoming book Radiant Survivor. I thought you might enjoy reading what she had to share. Erica suggests sending a sample chapter to people on first contact. That’s not normally something I recommend, but it seems to have worked for her:

To obtain endorsements for your book, find people who have a shared interest in its subject matter. For example, do you quote a potential endorser in your book? Or have they experienced a similar situation as your own? I quoted several passages from Dr. Nancy Qualls Corbett’s (a Jungian psychotherapist) book in my novel Anything is Possible, and thus she gave me a wonderful endorsement.

Most recently for my book Radiant Survivor: How to Shine and Thrive through Recovery from Stroke, Cancer, Abuse, Addiction and Other Life-Altering Experiences, I was able to obtain agreements to endorse my book from Kevin Sorbo (aka Hercules) and Dr. Bernie Siegel, an internationally renowned physician. Kevin had several strokes in his late 30s so he understood my story since he had “been there, done that.” Bernie, as Dr. Siegel prefers to be called, has authored many books on healing and is an expert in complementary and holistic medicine, so perhaps he felt that my book fell in the same category as his, at some level.

When you contact potential endorsers, send them the intro and a chapter or two of your book for their perusal. Then send the complete manuscript if they request it. Ask them politely to please return their endorsement within a certain time frame.  Also, it’s important to make them feel like they want to give you their endorsement. Tell them that you love the work that they do. Maybe you have quoted them. Appeal to their altruistic side. That you have had a similar experience as they have had, or that you have read their books, and that you would love to have their endorsement as a testament to the benefits of reading your book. If they too are authors, as Kevin and Bernie both are, they will understand how important endorsements are…Although I feel that it was more their graciousness that led them to agree to giving me endorsements. And I am very grateful for them being willing to do so!

ENDORSEMENT TIP: Sometimes very ‘busy’ endorsers will ask YOU to write the endorsement for them. That might seem a bit disingenuous, but it happens all the time. If fact, it’s probably more common than uncommon when you are requesting endorsements from bigger names. If one of your endorsers asks you to do this, don’t panic or be offended. Think about who THEY are and what their message is. Then, in two sentences, try to think what they would say about your book from their perspective. Try to include the ‘money shot’ in it, where there are two or three words that can be extracted and used on their own.

Then, send this suggested ‘blurb’ to your endorser and ask them to tweak it to make it their own. If they’re truly the right endorsers for your book, you will get back something personalised and genuine that can also be promotional gold-dust for you.

That’s it for today…

We’ve covered a lot of ground today. Hopefully you gained some useful information from it. Next time in Part 4, we’ll be looking at:

  • Must-Do #9: Creating effective back cover, back pages and META copy for your book
  • Must-Do #10: Final stages: formatting, uploading and ordering your proof

Closing Thoughts

I hope these articles are helping you get more excited and more confident about self-publishing. I’d really like to know what you’ve most gained from the information I’ve shared, so PLEASE share your feedback (or questions) in the comments box below.

And be sure to subscribe to this blog to make sure you receive Part 4 of this series, plus all our Spirit Authors articles.

AND LASTLY, if you’re looking for personal help in your self-publishing and book marketing journey, have a look at our Hire Us page to read about our services. Then, if you’re interested in speaking about working together, drop me a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn

10th July 2013

 

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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

 

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

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Print-on-demand has made self-publishing affordable, but many authors find the process overwhelming. Lynn Serafinn explains how to get your book set up properly. Part 2 of a 4-part series ‘Self-Publishing – a 10-Point Must-Do Checklist for Authors’.

Last week in Part 1 of this 4-part series, we looked at the first five items on our 10-point self-publishing checklist. We talked about the importance of choosing the right title and subtitle, finding a professional editor and proofreader and finding a highly recommended book cover designer. We also talked about creating a publishing company and how to get your ISBNs for your book.

If you haven’t had a chance to read that article yet, you can do so by clicking HERE.

As I wanted to go into detail, I’ve decided to break the next five points into three separate articles (a total of four altogether). So today, in Part 2, we’re going to be looking at the nitty-gritty of getting your book ready for publication, as we go through the next item on our checklist, which is:

Setting up your title, prices and categories with your print-on-demand company

So, if you’re ready, let’s get started.

Must-Do #6: Setting Up Your Title, Prices and Categories with a POD Company

OVERVIEW

Back in the old days, if you wanted to publish your own book, you had to get a large quantity printed in advance. This was because the price to set up the printing plates was expensive, and unless you bought around 2000 copies of the book, the price per unit would never absorb the set-up charges. Of course, this is perfectly fine if you have the distribution channels or enough live speaking engagements to ensure you can sell 2000 copies of your book before they get dusty, faded, old-looking or out-of-date. But if you’re like most new authors, you don’t have the capability of shifting 2000 units quickly, and you are likely to end up with boxes of unmovable stock. Thus, what looked like a good deal at the time ends up being a big financial loss. It’s also not exactly environmentally friendly to print thousands of books that will only end up being recycled into pulp in a few years’ time.

But now, with the dawn of digital printing, the cost of set-up is radically reduced, and we also have the ability to order our books on a ‘print on demand’ basis (POD). POD means exactly what it says: your printer can now print ONE book at a time for you, meaning there is no surplus to deal with (unless you happen to over order) and no need to run yourself into debt by having to order massive quantities.

The company I use and recommend to my clients is Lightning Source (http://lightningsource.com), which I’ll abbreviate as LSI. LSI is a print-on-demand company that has global distribution. When you set up an account with them, your book goes into all the major distribution channels, including all the Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Ingram and Baker & Taylor. What this means is, all you need to do is publish your book through LSI’s distribution channel and they take care of telling retailers and distributors about your book, and fulfilling any orders that come through. You, as the publisher, are able to place your own orders if you want, paying only for printing and shipping costs. Unlike subsidiary presses (see Part 1 of this article series), LSI do not take ANY publisher compensation (i.e., royalties) from you. Apart from very nominal set-up charges in the beginning (I think it’s around $40 per title) they will only charge you for printing and shipping.

Some people shy away from LSI for two reasons: 1) they can’t navigate through their (admittedly) confusing website and 2) they’ve heard horror stories about their books being labelled as ‘out of stock’ on Amazon when they go through LSI. Please trust me when I tell you that both of these fears are down to people not understanding how the system works:

  • Yes, LSI’s website IS confusing when you first see it, but if you have a good Client Services Rep, he or she should be able to help you through it. They also have a live chat help desk open during business hours. Also, once your account is set up and you get used to the idiosyncrasies of their website, it’s really simple to use. Besides, my rep tells me they are well aware of the unwieldiness of their website, and they have plans to revamp it and make it more user friendly.
  • The whole issue with ‘being listed as out of stock’ on Amazon is a NON-issue. If your book is ‘print on demand,’ it WON’T be ‘in stock’ until Amazon orders some books. The way to get around this is to order one or two yourself. Within two weeks this listing will go away, as Amazon will have made an order for your book. After that, if they run out, it will say ‘temporarily out of stock; more on the way’ just the same as they would for any other book. See my earlier article ‘How to Kick-Start Your Book Sales – Part 2’ for more information about this.

SETTING UP YOUR ACCOUNT

LSI is a business-to-business company. They assume you are a publisher, not an author. Therefore, LSI assume you already have ISBN numbers associated with your publishing company, and they will ask you for a sample of one of your ISBNs when you register. So, make sure you have already received your ISBNs (see Part 1 of this article series) before you try to set up your LSI account.

When setting up, be sure you select ‘POD Direct Distribution’ rather than the ‘print to publisher’ option. This gives LSI permission to distribute your titles to anyone in their distribution chain. You will need to sign several documents that give them permission for this. There will be a different contract for each country in which you give them permission to distribute: US, UK, Australia and Europe. LSI can also do eBook distribution for you, but bear in mind that this does NOT include Kindle, as this is a proprietary format that you can only arrange directly with Amazon (we’ll look at this in Part 3 of this article series).

SETTING UP YOUR TITLE

Once your account has been set up, you can set up your first title. You CAN (and should) do this before your book is ready to be published because you’ll probably want to go back in and change things before you finally submit it to LSI’s system. Set up the title of your first book, along with its ISBN, and set a date in the future as its publication date (LSI will ask you whether you’re sure this ‘future’ date is what you intended; just say it’s ok and continue).

After setting up your title, you’ll need to define several details:

  • Retail price of your book
  • The wholesale discount
  • Your book’s categories
  • Your book’s description, also called the ‘Meta’

The ‘meta’ is something we’ll look at in Part 4. Right now, let’s just look at price, discount and categories.

SETTING YOUR RETAIL PRICE

(this section discusses pricing for your PRINT book; pricing for eBooks and Kindle will be addressed in Part 4).

Setting your price is partially down to the length of your book, as well as whether it is fiction or non-fiction. The general opinion amongst publishers is that non-fiction books can be priced slightly higher than fiction. My area of expertise is in non-fiction books, so what I will share here is based mainly upon the assumption you are a non-fiction author.

Let’s say your book is 80,000 words in length. At roughly 300 words per page, and allowing for front and back pages (which we’ll talk about in the next article), that would end up being about 275 pages long in a typical 5’ X 8’ or 6’ X 9’ book. Your printing charge from LSI would be $4.47 USD per unit ($0.013 per page plus $1 for cover/assembly). Typically I recommend setting a retail price of approximately four times the cost of your printing, which in this case would be $17.95. You could set the price slightly higher, of course, but you have to think of the average price point for the customer. Setting a price of $19.95 might make you more money per unit, but if it ‘feels’ too high to customers, they might opt for a different book. Of course, if your book is a book about business (where people how to profit from it), paying a few dollars more is not always the deal breaker if the content is unique and highly recommended by other readers.

UK readers: LSI’s printing costs in GBP are 1p per page plus 70p for cover/assembly. Thus the above book would cost you £3.45 per unit to print. Using the same logic, your suggested retail price would be about £14.95.

PRICING FOR DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

You will need to set up your prices for EVERY country in which you have signed a contract to sell through LSI. To do this, use an online currency converter to calculate the current exchange rate, and then round it UP to the nearest unit to allow for market fluctuation. One converter I use frequently is located at http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/. After you do your conversion, be sure to make the price something like £14.95 rather than £15.

SETTING YOUR WHOLESALE DISCOUNT

Sticking with our suggested retail price of $17.95, we now have to set up our ‘wholesale discount’. Our wholesale discount is a percentage OFF the retail price we agree to give to wholesalers and distributors. A wholesaler who buys the book at this discount would then sell the book to retail shops for a small mark-up, and then the retailers will sell the book at or near the retail price you have set.

I typically suggest self-publishers set their discount to either 45% or 50% (some big publishers will even offer a 55% discount). This means that if your book retails at $17.95, a wholesaler will buy it for $8.98 (if you set a 50% discount) or $9.87 (if you set a 45% discount). You will receive this amount MINUS the cost of printing. The final figure is the ‘publisher compensation’ (or ‘royalties’) you will receive.

If we do the math, this means that you, the publisher, will make the following royalty/compensation per each book sold:

USD: 275 page book at $17.95 retail sold at 45% discount = $5.40 royalty per unit sold

USD: 275 page book at $17.95 retail sold at 50% discount = $4.51 royalty per unit sold

GBP: 275 page book at £14.95 retail sold at 45% discount = £4.77 royalty per unit sold

GBP: 275 page book at £14.95 retail sold at 50% discount = £4.02 royalty per unit sold

ABOUT AMAZON

Amazon, although technically a retailer, purchases your books at your wholesale rate. This gives them a tremendous competitive advantage in that they can discount the price of your book significantly, to make it look more attractive to customers. Be assured that if Amazon or any other company that sells your book for LESS than the retail price, it does NOT impact your royalties in any way. They could choose to sell it for 1 cent more than what they bought it for, and you would STILL get the publisher compensation as above.

DON’T GET GREEDY

Some book marketers will tell you to set your wholesale compensation to 20% discount, giving you maximum publisher compensation per unit. But I believe this is foolhardy advice. You have to consider the motivation of the retailer. I was a retailer for over 20 years, and I can assure you if an item did not have a good mark-up I simply wouldn’t buy it. A mark-up of 20% is not enough of an incentive for me to stock an item because a) it forces me to sell it at full retail price, which puts off my customers and b) it means I can’t mark it down to sell it quickly if it’s unpopular.

Try to understand the whole distribution chain and offer your retailers and wholesalers a mark-up that is attractive both to them and to their customers. Never set your wholesale discount to less than a 45%.

SETTING YOUR CATEGORIES

The last thing you’ll need to do at this point is decide in which three categories your book should be placed. LSI uses ‘BIC’ categories (‘Book Industry Communication’). These are standard throughout the industry. Your BIC category placement is vital. Don’t go for broad, general, top level categories. For example, ‘Business & Economics’ is a top level category. There are thousands of business books on the market, and placing your book in this category doesn’t tell the retailer or the customer enough about your book. It will also put you in competition with blockbuster titles, which gives you no advantage at all.

You can choose three BIC classifications for your book. Choose subcategories that best define your book to both retailers and customers. You even might think of having two of your subcategories under one top level category, and one subcategory under a different top level.

One word of warning: For some mad reason, although BIC is supposed to be standard, most retailers have their OWN categories that are not the same as BIC categories. Let’s take a brief look at how this impacts your listing on Amazon.

AMAZON CATEGORIES

Amazon sets your categories based upon the BIC categories you set in LSI. However, sometimes they get it ‘wrong’ and interpret your categories weirdly. If you feel you’ve got the BIC categories ‘right’ but Amazon gets your category placement very ‘wrong’, you can always contact Author Central on Amazon and ask them to fix it. However, as Amazon will not allow you to set up an Author Central account until you actually have a book PUBLISHED with them, it means you might need to go through a month or so of ironing out the ‘kinks’ if this is your first book. This is another good reason to ‘Kick-Start Your Book Sales’ (click the link to read my previous article on this).

Also bear in mind also that EVERY Amazon site (US, UK, Canada, etc.) has different categories and subcategories. This can be terribly frustrating for an author/publisher. I’m really not sure why they don’t standardise it, but that’s the way it is. So be mindful that while you might be appearing on the perfect categories on one site, you might not on another. If that’s the case, contact them through Author Central.

Lastly (and to make things even more confusing), your categories for the Kindle edition of your book will be DIFFERENT yet again, and will need to be set via Kindle Direct Publishing, which is something we’ll discuss in Part 4 of this series.

Ok, that’s it for Part 2. Next time, in Part 3, we’ll be looking at:

Then finally, in Part 4, we’ll be looking at:

  • Must-Do #9: Creating effective back cover, back pages and META copy for your book
  • Must-Do #10: Final stages: formatting, uploading and ordering your proof

Closing Thoughts

I hope this information has been useful to you. I know navigating through the quagmire of self-publishing ‘must-do’s’ can be extremely daunting when you’re a first-time self-publisher, but please believe me when I say it gets easier. I could have made this article shorter and less detailed, but I get asked these same questions SO many times, I thought I’d put it all in writing for you.

Please do let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. And don’t leave without subscribing to this blog if you’re keen to receive the rest of this series, plus all our Spirit Authors articles.

AND, of course, if you’re looking for personal help in your self-publishing and book marketing journey, have a look at our Hire Us page to read about our services. Then, if you’re interested in speaking about working together, drop me a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn
4 July 2013


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Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:
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Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Part 1 in a 4-part series of top tips on how to make your self-published book look like it’s been published with a major publisher. From book coach and marketer, Lynn Serafinn.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in self-publishing. Far from making an author a ‘second-class citizen’, I believe self-publishing has many advantages over going with a publisher or a subsidiary press like Create Space, Balboa Press or iUniverse. The three main advantages of self-publishing over these other options are:

  1. You make far more money on each unit sold when you go 100% self-published. Most publishers pay between 7%-12% of retail in royalties. Subsidiary presses typically pay 50% of net. With self-publishing, you earn 100% of net. For example, if you had a 250-page book that retailed at $20, you would make about $2 from a publisher, $2.50 from a subsidiary press and $5.50 (or more) if you went the self-publishing route. Of course, the actual figures would depend upon the cost of printing (I have estimated $4.50 per unit) and the wholesale discount at which you offered the book to retailers (I have used a typical rate of 50%).
  2. Self-publishing gives you 100% artistic freedom. While subsidiary presses don’t generally interfere with your artistic process, they also don’t tend to offer a whole lot either. Publishers can provide a lot of artistic input, but they can also take control of it. If you go self-published and hire the right designers and editors (or maybe even a self-publishing adviser) for your production team, you can produce something you feel is truly ‘yours’.  It also permits you to be in complete control of the dates for your book launch and to drive the image/brand behind it.
  3. Self-publishing also gives you the potential for growth. Your publishing enterprise could turn into an actual business with time. You will have the flexibility of negotiating wholesale deals with shops, entering publisher contests and maybe even bringing other authors into your company. While that’s not something that may be on your mind when you are publishing your first book, it at least leaves the door open to possibilities.

While that all might sound great, many authors face three major obstacles when attempting to self-publish:

  1. They don’t know how to self-publish a book AND
  2. Because they don’t know how to do it, they tend to do it badly AND
  3. Even if they do it ‘right’ they don’t know how to market their book

As I focus a lot of my blog posts on the art of book marketing, I thought it would good to devote some time looking at the first of these two obstacles. So, over the next two articles, I’ll be walking you through some of the basic ‘must do’ items on your self-publishing checklist, along with tips on how to do it right so your book doesn’t end up looking self-published.

As there’s so much to cover, I’m breaking this 10-point list into four articles (links to the others are at the end of this article). Today, we’ll be looking at points 1 – 5 on the checklist, as these are the ones you will need to address earliest in the process.

NOTE: While most of my articles address the specific needs of non-fiction authors, most of this information is equally applicable for writers of fiction books.

Must-Do #1: Choose Your Title and Subtitle METICULOUSLY

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great title for your book. In the case of non-fiction authors, the subtitle is equally (and sometimes even more) important as the title. Your title is the ‘hook’ that will make people remember your book in the plethora of others on the market. Your subtitle is the ‘promise’ you will bring to the reader.

I routinely help my clients craft winning titles and subtitles for their non-fiction books. I shared some of my tips in a recent article called ‘How to Choose the Perfect Title for Your Non-Fiction Book’. Rather than repeat the information here, I recommend giving it a read.

When to do this: If your title just isn’t working for you, try to work with someone who can help you craft it. Your title and sub-title can be a great asset to you during the WRITING process as it can help you find focus. At the very least, you should ensure you have your title finalised a good 5 months before your projected publication date, so you can begin pre-publication marketing.

Must-Do #2: Find a Highly-Recommended Professional Editor and Proofreader

Too many authors neglect this crucial step in their publishing. No matter how good a writer you are, a good editor and proofreader is vital to keeping your book from looking and reading like a typical ‘self-published’ book. In fact, it’s the lack of good editing that has often given self-publishing a bad rap.

My tips on finding and working with an editor/proofreader are:

  • Don’t say you can’t afford one. The truth is you can’t afford NOT to have one.
  • Never leave it to the last minute. Good editors have a full roster of clients. Book your time with one well in advance. Make sure they are free during the time you need them.
  • Choose an editor who comes highly recommended by an author you trust. Please make sure to choose someone who edits whole BOOKS and not just short copy (web copy, articles, etc). Book editors are experienced in looking for continuity and flow, which is what you need.
  • Be sure to allot enough time for edits to turn around. Many authors underestimate how long the editing process will take. You should allow about one month for an editor to send you their initial edits. Then, you will need to incorporate those edits and suggested changes into the manuscript, which might take you up to a month depending upon how complex the edits are and how much time you have in your daily schedule to work on them. Finally, you’ll need to send this editing manuscript back to your editor (or a separate proofreader) for a final edit and proofread. This might take another month. So, altogether, you should be SURE to allot a good 3 months for the whole process. (I’ll be talking more about this in part 2).

When to do this: Find your editor while you are still writing your first draft, hopefully a good two months BEFORE you need them to do their first edit. Then, be sure to send them your manuscript for the first edit at least 5-6 months before your projected publication date.

Must-Do #3: Find a Highly-Recommended Cover Designer

Again, many self-published authors tend to skimp on this step, saying they cannot ‘afford’ a professional designer for their book. Some succumb to marketing pressure from their subsidiary press, and they use in-house designers. In my experience, these designers produce really sub-standard work that does NOT express the heart and soul of your book, primarily because they don’t know you and are working from a brief. If you really want to have a self-published book that looks professional, you WILL need to spend some money on a professional designer.

My tips on finding and working with a designer are:

  • The same as the above tips for finding and working with an editor. Please don’t find a designer on eLance or any other budget site. Ask around on social networks for referrals to find designers who come recommended by people you trust.
  • Don’t be tempted to go DIY. Do not do the cover yourself or ask a friend to do it UNLESS you/they are skilled designers.
  • Don’t use a generic designer. By ‘generic’ I mean those who work in-house for subsidiary presses. Hire an independent designer who will meet with you, discuss your brief, and be willing to work closely with you to create something unique.
  • Don’t allow your designer to use stock images. Stock images might be ok if you’re making a small (under 20,000 word) Kindle eBook, but not if you’re publishing a full-length book. Hire someone who can make original artwork.
  • Don’t put your own photo on the front cover. Unless you are a famous author, speaker or celebrity, your photo does NOT belong on the front cover. Save it for the back cover in the author bio.
  • Ask to see examples of their work. Like any artist, every designer has a different style. They might be the best designer in the world, but they might not be right for your book. Ask to look at examples of other book covers your designer has made and choose the one that most closely matches the feel of your book.
  • Have a CLEAR idea of what you want. Designers aren’t mind-readers. Don’t assume they’ll know what is perfect for your book without you giving them some idea about what you want. Come up with some concepts and colour schemes that you think match your book. If you can make a mock up in Photoshop or a rough sketch to give the designer an idea, that’s even better.
  • Get a fixed price on the project. I recommend negotiating a fixed price in advance with your designer rather than agreeing to pay by the hour. Hourly rates put pressure on both you and the designer. Agree on a fixed price AND make sure that this covers a specific number of drafts/edits as well as the back cover design (if you are doing a print version of your book).
  • Don’t be afraid to say you don’t like it. A lot of authors I meet hold back from giving feedback to their designers. They don’t like their cover, but they also don’t like ‘conflict’ AND they’re afraid of spending more money (especially if they’re paying by the hour). By not speaking up, you’re going to end up with a cover you really can’t stand, but feel you are ‘stuck’ with. Don’t let this happen.

When to do this: Try to get your FRONT cover made 5-6 months before your projected publication date. The sooner you have your front cover finalised, the sooner you can start creating the ‘buzz’ for your book so people know it will be coming out soon. The back cover can come later, about 3 months before projected publication date. In fact, I recommend LEAVING the back cover until you have the final draft of your book done, so you know your back cover copy matches what’s inside the book.

Must-Do #4: Create a Publishing Company

Depending upon where you live, starting a publishing company is often as easy as making up a name for your publishing house. If you are already self-employed, this can just be another enterprise under your personal name. It doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘officially’ registered as a company.

In choosing a name for your publishing company, choose one that goes beyond the message of your current book, and expresses the message of potential future books. What is the theme of your over-arching message? Where do you see yourself going as an author?

You DON’T necessarily have to come up with a logo for your company, but it’s a nice touch if you do. You may or may not use the same designer you use for your cover. Crafting good logos is a separate skill set. Again, unless you are a graphic designer with logo experience, please don’t attempt to do this on your own.

When to do this: As all of the above, set up your company 5-6 months before your projected publication date. You can make your logo later (if you intend to create one) but make sure it is complete before your designer makes the back cover/spine of your print book (as this is where the logo typically goes) or your layout designer does the layout for the interior (covered in the next article)

Must-Do #5: Get Your ISBN Numbers

Once you have established your publishing company, it’s time to get a batch of ISBN numbers.  ISBN stands for ‘International Standard Book Number’. An ISBN is a thirteen-digit number assigned to every book before publication. Furthermore, you are REQUIRED to use a different ISBN for every format of the book you publish. In other words, if you intend to print a paperback, a hardback and ONE version of eBook of the same book, you’ll need 3 different ISBNs. Many authors don’t realise that you will require a different ISBN for each format in which you publish your eBook (i.e., Smashwords, Kobe, PDF, Kindle, etc). While Smashwords and Kindle can assign you an ISBN, remember that technically they’re the ‘publisher’ if they do so. This doesn’t matter so much on Amazon, as Kindle is a proprietary format, but I do recommend using your own ISBN for other eBook publishing formats.

If you publish a new edition of your book, you will also need a new ISBN. This is not necessary if you are simply making minor changes/edits to your book (you can call that a ‘2nd printing’ rather than a ‘2nd edition’) but if a book has been changed substantially enough to be considered a different edition, you will need to use a new ISBN to distinguish it from the old one.

ISBNs are always associated with the publishing company. Something you might not realise is that if you go with a subsidiary press and have them assign your ISBN, THEY are technically the publisher, not you. This does not infringe on your copyright as an author, but it does limit your ability as a publisher.

The organisations that assign ISBNs are different for each country. Below are the agencies for the US and the UK. If you are in a different country, you can find your ISBN agency by doing a Google search for “ISBN in [name of your country]”.

Some ISBN providers require that you purchase a minimum of 10 ISBNs at a time. I recommend doing this because you’ll go through them more quickly than you might think, especially if you are a prolific writer and you are publishing in multiple formats.

When to do this: Again, do this 5-6 months before your projected publication date. If you are a first-time author who is just setting up your publishing company, you might have some paperwork to fill in, so allow a few hours for this. After you request your first batch of ISBNs, it can take up to 10 working days for you to receive them (although one of my clients received hers within 2 days).

NEXT TIME…

In Part 2 of this 4-part series, we’ll look at:

  • Must-Do #6: Setting up your title with your print-on-demand company (including setting your price & book categories)

Then, in  in Part 3 and Part 4, we’ll be looking at:

Do be sure to subscribe to this blog so you’ll receive that article, plus all our future articles on writing, publishing and book marketing.

I hope you found this article useful. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback below.

AND, of course, if you’re looking for personal help in your self-publishing and book marketing journey, have a look at our Hire Us page to read about our services. Then, if you’re interested in speaking about working together, drop me a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn
26th May 2013


NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook
Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Lynn Serafinn’s book marketing advice for authors getting ready to launch, including tips for ensuring your book gets into the right categories on Amazon. 

Last week, I shared the first part of an interview I did with Kristen Eckstein of Ultimate Book Coach, where she asked me these 5 questions about book marketing:

  1.  When in the book publishing process should an author start promoting their book and planning their book launch?
  2. Should all authors consider doing an Amazon “bestseller” launch?
  3. What are some of the activities you help authors with in the 6 months leading up to their launch?
  4. You told me that you always recommend “kick starting” an author’s book sales before an Amazon launch. What do you mean by that? What benefits does it give the book and author?
  5. What other book launch tips can you share?

In part 1, I shared my answers to questions 1 – 3. You can read those is ‘How to Kick-Start Your Book Sales – Part 1’.

Today, I like to share my answers to the last two questions, where I also reveal my ‘secret sauce’ tip.

KRISTEN: You told me that you always recommend “kick starting” an author’s book sales before an Amazon launch. What do you mean by that? What benefits does it give the book and author?

LYNN: By “kick starting” I mean ordering 2 or 3 copies of the paperback AND Kindle version of the book in each of the Amazon websites (or at least the English language sites in US, Canada and UK). You can send them to people who live in those respective countries. To make it practical, you could send it to people you have asked to review or endorse your book.

There are three reasons for “kick starting”. The first one is to ensure your book is listed as being in stock on Amazon. The only way Amazon will purchase a quantity of your books is if they see that it’s selling. Some people use pre-sales for this, but I prefer to use the kick-start method. When authors do not do this, they may get to launch day and Amazon says the book is out of stock, which can put buyers off from buying it.

The second reason is so that your book will appear in the sales rankings. Until your book has sold at least one copy, it will show no sales ranking at all.

And the third reason has to do with placement. Most of my authors either use Lightning Source for printing and distribution, or they are published by major publishers. All of these channels use either Ingram or Baker and Taylor for distribution to retail outlets, including Amazon. When you submit your title for distribution, you have to choose the categories into which your book may be classified (they call these “BIC categories”). Unfortunately (and inexplicably), Amazon’s categories don’t quite “match” the BIC ones and your book can end up catalogued in some pretty arbitrary categories. The only reliable way to find out where your book is placed is to order a few copies of your book a few weeks before your launch date.

Hopefully, by doing this, your book will appear somewhere in the “top 100” in at least one category, even if only for an hour. This should give you an indication of where Amazon has placed the book. If the category is way off, you can write to them via Author Central, and give them suggested changes. As an example, a few weeks before my book The 7 Graces of Marketing came out, I discovered they had placed it in the “accounting” category. Wow, what a mismatch that was! Fortunately, the kick-starter strategy ensured it was all sorted out before the launch.

KRISTEN: What other book launch tips you can share?

LYNN: Oh, I’ve got plenty! Here are just a few:

  1. A launch is a business investment. Invest wisely. Having an international #1 bestselling book can open up many doors to you and your business. But don’t go into it with “rose-coloured glasses” and no plan of what you want this status to bring you.
  2. Don’t expect to put together a launch in less than 6 months. If you suddenly get the idea to call a marketing company like mine one or two months before your book comes out, thinking they can “do it fast” for you, you’re wrong.
  3. Your launch doesn’t have to coincide with your publication date. Some of my most successful launches happened 6 months AFTER a book came out. Just because your book is coming out next month does not mean you have to launch next month.
  4. Don’t try to do it on your own. Hire an experienced team to do it for you, and focus on doing the things only you can do—writing, doing interviews, creating your business products, etc.
  5. Don’t expect your Virtual Assistant to be able to run a book launch for you. I’ve seen that fail time and again. An Amazon launch is a specialist skill, and you’ll only frustrate yourself and your hired help if you ask the wrong people to do a launch for you.
  6. Don’t cut corners. Do it right. You won’t get the results you want if you try to save money by eliminating any of the essential components.
  7. Don’t feel hopeless if you’re not ‘ready’ for a big launch. If you’re not ready for a launch, there are still many things you can do to market your book and build your long-term platform. That is why Spirit Authors offers alternative packages for authors who many not be quite ready to invest in a big launch. Then, when their 2nd book comes out, they’ll be in a much better place to invest the time and money a successful launch requires.
  8. SECRET SAUCE: Your 1st book will very often increase in sales as a result of a successful launch of your 2nd book. Every time you launch a new book, it has an impact on past titles IF they are written for the same audience.

I do hope these two articles gave you some useful information.

Please share your comments and questions below!

If you are thinking about having an Amazon book launch OR you’re just getting started building your book promotion platform and would like to see how our team at Spirit Authors can help, send us a SHORT email describing your project and where you are in your marketing so far using the contact form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

AND…if you’d like to get PRACTICAL tips on building your online marketing platform using Twitter, you can get a free 90 minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com. You also find out about my award-winning marketing book Tweep-e-licious, which was written very much with authors in mind.

Lynn Serafinn

1 May 2013

 

PLEASE SHARE YOUR QUESTIONS & COMMENTS BELOW!

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles on writing, publishing, book promotion and new mind-body-spirit book releases.

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog

Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.

Follow @SpiritAuthors

BOOKS BY LYNN SERAFINN

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER

The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell

Find out how traditional marketing negatively impacts our health, economy, communities and natural environment, and how to turn it around with a new paradigm called the 7 Graces of Marketing.

Brit Writers Awards Finalist

eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically

Learn how to create meaningful content and build powerful collaborations through Twitter and other social media ETHICALLY.

eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

 

The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self

A metaphoric and poetic journey about finding your voice, receiving the blessings of life, overcoming trauma and becoming whole.

An Amazon spirituality bestseller 2009. Kindle version coming later in 2013.

Read excerpts and buy the book at http://give-receive-become-be.com/

 


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She was also a eLit Book Awards Silver Medalist in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs and a Bronze Medalist in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

 

http://bit.ly/Pf5mAU

Recently I was interviewed by Kristen Eckstein who runs a site called Ultimate Book Coach. She had read something I wrote in a Facebook comment about ‘kick starting’ your book sales and asked if I would do an interview with her for her readers.

I thought I’d share it here on the Spirit Authors site too, because many of you might find it useful. 

The questions Kristen asked were:

  1. When in the book publishing process should an author start promoting their book and planning their book launch?
  2. Should all authors consider doing an Amazon “bestseller” launch?
  3. What are some of the activities you help authors with in the 6 months leading up to their launch?
  4. You told me that you always recommend “kick starting” an author’s book sales before an Amazon launch. What do you mean by that? What benefits does it give the book and author?
  5. What other book launch tips can you share?

Today, in part 1 of this interview, I’ll be sharing my answers to questions 1 -3.

KRISTEN: When in the book publishing process should an author start promoting their book and planning their book launch?

LYNN: Really, an author should start promoting their book the minute they have landed the title for it! When I say “promoting” it, I don’t mean trying to sell it, but rather, building an online platform for themselves through blogging, YouTube and social media. This helps grow their network and mailing list, and starts to establish them as experts in their chosen field. If an author already has a good network, they should start to create content on the specific subject of their upcoming book and “name drop” their title at the end of articles, indicating a book is coming out soon (e.g., “This article was an adaptation of ideas from my upcoming book My Book Title coming autumn 2013.”)

KRISTEN: Should all authors consider doing an Amazon “bestseller” launch?

LYNN: I don’t think big launches are a good fit for all authors. Back when I was a new marketer, I used to take on any author who wanted a launch. But these days, I never take on a client for a full book launch unless (or until) I can see their online platform is solid. Big book launches are expensive and they require a substantial number of systems to be in place before they can be pulled off successfully. Also, if you have no platform, you are unlikely to attract very influential partners to support you. So you owe it to yourself to spend at least a full year building your online platform before you even consider approaching partners for a launch.

I have observed that the books that sell the best in bestseller launches are the ones by people whose business/brand is well established. They may be first-time authors, but people already know who they are and what their message is. Because the business is already well-established, the book tends to be more useful to the public, for the simple reason that the author knows what works and what doesn’t work for their own clients, customers or readers. These kinds of launches also tend to attract the best partners and have the most focus. Finally, the author tends to have an integrated business plan for what this book will do for them, and the expense of the launch brings a good return on their investment not just through book sales, but also through business growth.

I have also observed that first-time authors who are also brand new business owners tend to struggle. The author may be very passionate about their work, and they may be willing to pour their last dollar into a launch, but I really don’t recommend this. While they SHOULD develop a modest launch and a long-term marketing plan for their book, they absolutely should not put themselves into financial difficulty to do a bestseller launch when they do not yet have the systems in place where a) they can attract a strong network of partners and b) they already have an audience of buyers for their book AND their business products and services.

Q3: What are some of the activities you help authors with in the 6 months leading up to their launch?

If their platform is already pretty solid, I first look for the “gaps” in their online platform and fill them. Then, I work with them to create a blogging and leads generating strategy to increase their following while we do the mechanics of the actual launch. Then, over the next 6 months, we work with my team of 7 people to plan and deliver a telesummit, coordinate a Virtual Blog Tour and a radio media tour and coordinate and mobilise a team of network partners who will help promote them. We also design the graphics, make all the web pages, autoresponders and marketing copy, make a video book trailer, invite high profile guests to speak at the telesummit, create intake forms, collect and manage data, get endorsements and reviews and get systems going on Amazon, including book categories and author profile and lots of other bits and bobs. All this takes a tremendous amount of work from our team and the author. Fortunately, I’ve got a highly experienced team and can depend upon them to do the job splendidly.

Behind the scenes, a lot is going on in terms of motivating and communicating with partners and crisis control. As the project manager, it’s my job to deal with all the possible worst-case-scenarios that will arise in a CALM, efficient manner. My clients are “allowed” to freak out, but I cannot.

Then, on launch day, there are a lot of things to do around tracking sales, capturing screenshots and motivating partners. I really focus on developing a proper “team” with my network partners, so they get behind the client, and vice versa. It’s my goal to ensure everyone (not just the client) benefits from the launch.

*** END OF PART 1 ***

Please be sure to subscribe to this blog so you can receive Part 2 of “How to Kick Start Your Book Sales”, where I (finally) talk about what I MEAN by “kick-starting” your sales, along with how and why to do it. I also give 8 additional bonus tips that can help you stay sane during your book launch.

If you are thinking about having an Amazon book launch OR you’re just getting started building your book promotion platform and would like to see how our team at Spirit Authors can help, send us a SHORT email describing your project and where you are in your marketing so far using the contact form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

AND…if you’d like to get PRACTICAL tips on building your online marketing platform using Twitter, you can get a free 90 minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com. You also find out about my award-winning marketing book Tweep-e-licious, which was written very much with authors in mind.

Lynn Serafinn
24 April 2013

PLEASE SHARE YOUR QUESTIONS & COMMENTS BELOW!

Like this blog?
Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles on writing, publishing, book promotion and new mind-body-spirit book releases.

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.

Follow @SpiritAuthors

BOOKS BY LYNN SERAFINN
The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER

The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell
Find out how traditional marketing negatively impacts our health, economy, communities and natural environment, and how to turn it around with a new paradigm called the 7 Graces of Marketing.

Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically

Learn how to create meaningful content and build powerful collaborations through Twitter and other social media ETHICALLY.

eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

 

The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self

A metaphoric and poetic journey about finding your voice, receiving the blessings of life, overcoming trauma and becoming whole.

An Amazon spirituality bestseller 2009. Kindle version coming later in 2013.

Read excerpts and buy the book at http://give-receive-become-be.com/

 


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She was also a eLit Book Awards Silver Medalist in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs and a Bronze Medalist in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

 

http://bit.ly/Pf5mAU

What holds so many creative individuals back from going public? Author, coach and book marketer Lynn Serafinn reveals the top 5 fears every writer faces when leaping out of the safety zone of anonymity and into the public eye.


I’ve worked professionally with creatives for more than four decades, as a teacher, mentor, coach and consultant. I started as a music teacher when I was only 15 years old and by the time I left the teaching profession in 2007, I was overseeing over 700 music and performing arts students, as well as working as an examiner at several colleges throughout the UK for one of the largest educational awarding bodies in Britain. When I made the switch to working almost exclusively with authors, I found there were many similarities between them and performing artists, especially in the way they worked. No matter what craft they practice, creative individuals love to be unfettered; they thrive upon the adrenaline rush of new ideas. However, this can often be an addiction that can stop them short of bringing a project to completion. Many of them say this is because they “get bored” if a project takes too long. But I think this so-called “boredom” is often (if not usually) based upon various fears they commonly face.

Taking on the prospect of publishing one’s work can sometimes feel like we’re leaping out of the safety of the “small pond” into the unknown, and can be just as fearful as it may seem exciting. Because so many creative individuals suffer a continual (and often unconscious) battle against their fears, I thought it would be a good idea to name the top 5 most common fears I’ve encountered when working with them:

  1. Fear of Commitment
  2. Fear of Quitting
  3. Fear of Incompetence
  4. Fear of Judgement
  5. Fear of Marketing

Fear of Commitment
Many creatives have a million brilliant ideas, but refuse to commit to a specific project and bring it to completion. Creatives are “global thinkers”, and thus many worry that if they commit to one project, it will dampen their spontaneity and stop the flow of creative ideas. This is typical of the creative mind, and unless you know this about yourself, you are likely to give into commit-o-phobia. Succumbing to it can be a recipe for lifelong feelings of failure. I have seen it happen again and again. If you have a fear of commitment, please understand that you will NEVER free up space in your creative mind for MORE projects until you finish a project and get it out of the way. Have a little more faith in your ability to create. You will ALWAYS have more ideas. Trust your creative spirit.

“You will NEVER free up space in your creative mind for MORE projects until you finish a project and get it out of the way.”

Fear of Quitting
Many creatives already have a long track record of not seeing their projects to completion. Being aware of this can cause them to lose faith in themselves, and their greatest fear is that they will spend a lot of time and money on a project only to let themselves down by quitting before it’s done. They may also fear their quitting will cause them to lose the trust of other people permanently. It may seem blatantly obvious, but the only way to overcome this fear is to finish even one small project. Even a small victory will change your beliefs about yourself. Sometimes, hiring a writing coach can be helpful provided you commit yourself to being held accountable by your coach. Get it into your head that your ability to complete your project is entirely in YOUR hands (and mind).

Fear of Incompetence
Let’s say you’ve moved through the other two fears, and now it’s obvious your book WILL be published (including self-published). You’re not necessarily out of the woods because other fears inevitably start to kick in. If the book is a non-fiction book and you have taken a stance on a particular subject, you might be afraid you won’t be able to answer difficult questions in media interviews. You might even be unsure as to whether or not you can stand by your topic fully. If these kinds of fears are controlling you, then it’s time for two things. First, sit down and restate all the reasons why this book “wants” to be written. Why does the world need this book now? What is its purpose beyond your own desire to write it? Get a really strong connection to the “life purpose” of the book. Write this purpose down and pin it over your desk. After you’ve done that, it’s time to sit down and read your book through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you, and see how well you are communicating your ideas. You might want someone else (not your mother or best friend!) to give you objective feedback. If something is “missing” in what you are saying, ask yourself questions like, “Where am I holding back? What am I leaving out? What am I avoiding in the book?” Then, ask yourself if you could benefit from some 3rd party research resources to back up your ideas. Rework your text until you know it is expressing exactly what you mean. The best way to build competence is to get it clear in YOUR mind first, and then learn how to express it clearly to others. And remember, “competence” doesn’t have to mean “complex”. Think of SIMPLE ways to express your (complex) ideas, and people will more readily understand you.

Fear of Judgement
Fear of Judgement—whether from family and friends or from the general public—is probably the biggest fear every author faces as they get ready to publish. I don’t want to minimise this fear (as it can be crippling if it’s “got” you in its grips) but I do want to make it simple: 1) all fear is in the mind and; 2) fear is a mind-killer (as Frank Herbert said in Dune). Please note: when you write a book, people WILL judge you. It’s going to happen no matter what you do. Some will judge your favourably and others not so favourably. If you don’t allow yourself to enter the arena and be “judged”, not only will your book never get published, but YOU will never grow as an author, or as a human being. And here’s the secret I’ve learned: with every book you write you will encounter new fears of judgement that you may not have known you had. Every time you jump into those fears and allow yourself to be judged, you grow and become more resilient. The only way to deal with fear of judgement is to “feel the fear and do it anyway” (as the late Susan Jeffers said). Move through your fear of judgment by stepping into your own “graciousness” and by learning to love what makes you radically different from everyone else. Once you are willing to be this radically different person, rather than someone who “fits” a particular mould, being judged becomes a fun, amusing and even necessary part of life rather than a terrifying ordeal.

“Fear of Judgement—whether from family and friends or from the general public—is probably the biggest fear every author faces as they get ready to publish.

Fear of Marketing
Now let’s say you’ve moved through all the other fears and your book is going to come out sometime in the near future. You have grappled with the other fears to some degree or another, and have finally accepted that if you want to get their book “out there” you will need to work on a marketing plan for it. But, in my experience, the mere thought of marketing can be the source of some major fears amongst creative individuals. The two most common fears they have about marketing are: 1) That they don’t have a clue where to start and 2) That they’ll look like a sleazy salesperson if they try to market their book.

Not knowing where to start is a common fear, but reading articles on blogs like Spirit Authors is a good way to get started. And please don’t wait until your book is written to start building your marketing platform. If you have no online platform established (social network, mailing list, etc), you should get started building it at least 6 months (hopefully a full year) before your book comes out.

To get you started on your platform building (or to help you grow a platform you’ve already started), I suggest you check out my most recent book Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically. While the book focuses on Twitter, it goes beyond it, and is a handbook of online marketing strategies that employ a systematic integration between social media, blogging, videos, etc. When you buy the book or Kindle, you can also download a 90-minute Twitter marketing audio class and a 14-page resource pack with links to over 100 Twitter resources. You can find out more about the book and the additional resources at http://tweepelicious.com

If you are one of these creatives or holistic business owners who believes that marketing will make you look “sleazy”, please know that there IS a way to market yourself creatively, in a way that does not betray your values. If anyone is telling you differently, they are probably following what I would call the “old paradigm” of marketing that depends upon fear, scarcity and other persuasive strategies. And as we have been discussing throughout this article, fear can shut down the pathways to creativity and connection. Trust your gut and know that you can create your own paradigm for marketing. To that end, I recommend you check out my book The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell¸ as it was originally inspired by people just like you.

Final Thought
The consummate author is not someone who has managed to get rid of fear altogether, but rather someone who has learned how to enjoy the fear, knowing that the ability to face bigger and bigger fears is the true measuring stick for our artistic craft and professional success.

I hope this article has struck a chord in some of you who may have been spinning your wheels in a writing project without being able to pinpoint the reasons. I believe that when we recognise which fears may be holding us back from success—and we know that millions of other creatives battle with exactly the same fears every time they approach a new project—we can begin to shift the stuckness and move into productivity. And the more productive we become, the more confident we become to face the inevitable fears that will pop up as we approach the next project, and the next after that.

~ Lynn Serafinn
5 February 2013

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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

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http://bit.ly/Pf5mAU

A short intro to digital media for authors who haven’t got a clue from author, coach, book marketer Lynn Serafinn.

I’m a fairly techie person. I’m on the computer so much, sometimes I think it would be more practical to have a microprocessor implanted directly into my brain so I wouldn’t have to sit at my desk all the time. But although I’m pretty expert with the Internet, social media, WordPress, web pages, etc., there are two areas in which I’m a bit of a late bloomer. One is mobile technology (I’ll be talking more about that in a later issue). I only just got my first “smart” phone (a Blackberry) less than 6 months ago. And while I work with authors ALL the time, the second area to which I am admittedly a late bloomer is the world of digital books—eBooks.

Actually, these two things (mobile technology and digital format books) are very, very much related, and if we authors do not have a clue about them, and how they work together, we are quite likely to miss out on half (if not more) of our potential book sales. In fact, my good friend Tony Eldridge from “Marketing Tips for Authors” recently became a #1 seller SOLELY because of his digital book, and only last week my own new book The 7 Graces of Marketing hit #1 & #2 in Kindle shops on both sides of the Atlantic.

I used to think an eBook was just a PDF file that was pretty much a duplicate of your print book. And up until a few years ago, that was true. Then, along came the Kindle, and a whole new market opened up. But THEN, “smart” mobile technology, such as iPhones, iPads and so many other formats entered onto the scene. It’s a confusing quagmire of technology, and it’s VERY easy to get overwhelmed with the options.

So I thought I’d write a VERY basic introduction to some of the practical considerations for eBook creation and distribution for authors who are self-publishing.

Question 1:
Do you need to bother publishing your book in an electronic format if you have a print edition?

Answer:
ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Amazon actually sells MORE Kindle eBook sales than it sells print books! Can you believe I don’t even own a Kindle yet? What was I thinking? (I’m ordering one next month!)

Question 2:
What eBook formats are there? Which format should I use?

Answer:
There are many formats, but the two you should concern yourself with most are Kindle (a bespoke format from Amazon) and the ePub format, which is used by iPad and other companies.

Kindle is the big leader in eBook sales (having been around for almost 5 years now), but iPad is catching up with currently nearly a quarter of all eBook sales at last count. Also, the ePub format is compatible with many other mobile devices besides the iPad. You should use BOTH formats, as well as PDF.

Question 3:
Where do I have to go to set up accounts for an eBook?

Answer:
My suggestion is to use THREE: Amazon (for Kindle), Lightning Source AND Smashwords for other electronic formats. They all distribute to completely different channels (the only overlap I have found between LS and Smashword Kobo).

For Kindle, go to https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin and get started. Be SURE to read all their guidelines before submitting anything. You don’t have to have an ISBN, but I think it’s a great idea to have one.

For Lightning Source, go to http://lightningsource.com. Download their list of “CoreSource” Fulfilment partners (there are probably about 60 of them, including MBS Books, Lulu, CyberRead, The Book Depository, Kobo and many others. They deliver eBooks in Adobe Acrobat ebook Reader, Microsoft Reader, and Palm eBook formats. You WILL need a new ISBN for your eBook version.

If you go to Smashwords at http://smashwords.com you’ll see their distribution partners on their home page as Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store. Again, you don’t need an ISBN, but I think it’s a lot better to use your own, as it associates your book with YOU as a publisher, and not with Smashwords.

Question 4:
How do I get my book into digital format for Kindle and ePub? Do I just upload my PDF of my print book?

Answer:
Nope. Each company has their own formatting guidelines and it’s EXTREMELY important you follow them. If formatting is not your “thing” someone can help you prepare your book for digital format. Smashwords will even send you a list of suggested formatters, who are all quite reasonably priced.

The Kindle Direct site is a bit confusing (I think it’s because their gradually updating their information), but if you hunt around it enough, you’ll also find a of suggested places where you can get your book formatted for Kindle. The one I’ve been using is called “LiberWriter” (LOVE the name!) at http://liberwriter.com/. You can test them out for free, and then if you want to use their services, it’s $25 to use their do-it-yourself conversion, and $50 to have them format and convert for you. They also actually respond to personally to customer service requests (always a plus).

Question 5:
Let’s talk about money. How do I price my book, and what kind of royalties will I receive per sale?

Answer:
The short answer to how to price your book is at LEAST 50% LESS than your print version. So, if your print book sells for $15.95, then price your eBook around $7.95 or less. If, however, you’re using this book more or less as a promotional tool (as opposed to a proper “book”), consider selling for as low as $0.99.

Regarding royalties, it goes like this:

Smashwords
Wholesale compensation = 60% of retail (when sold on sites other than their own)
Example: if your eBook is selling for $7.95, the author would get $4.77.
When your eBook is sold ON the Smashwords site, you get 85%. In other words, if your eBook is selling for $7.95, the author would get $6.76.

Lightning Source
LS take 7.5% taken from net (in other words, the author gets 92.5% of net sales). Net is calculated by taking the list price and subtracting the discount you are giving the distributor. For example, if your eBook is selling for $7.95 and wholesale discount is 50%, net world be $3.98, and the author would get $3.68. Of course, you could set your discount at a much lower rate wholesale discount if you wish to achieve a higher profit (example: at 30% discount, you would receive $5.14).

Kindle
You can get as high as a 70% royalty rate from Kindle, minus “delivery” costs. Deliver costs are relative to your file size. On Amazon.com, the delivery cost is $0.15/mb. So, if your eBook that is selling for $7.95 is 5mb in size, your royalty would be: $7.95 X 0.70 = $5.57 – (5 X $0.15) = $4.82.

NOTE: to qualify for a 70% royalty your Kindle retail price must be between $2.99 and $9.99. If it is higher or lower, you are restricted to 35%. That means that you will actually make MORE money selling your Kindle at $9.99 than you would if you were selling it at $18.99, and you would probably sell a load more Kindle versions of your book if you price it as low as is reasonable.  For example, I make only about $5.00 per print copy of my book that sells at $24.95, but I make almost $7.00 on my Kindle sales that are priced $9.99.

ALSO: The 70% royalty is NOT valid in all countries. If you select 70% and your Kindle sells to someone who does not live in one of the participating countries, you will receive 35% for those sales. It IS valid in countries such as US, UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and many others. The 70% royalty is NOT valid (as of this writing) for sales made to residents of  the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. See Kindle Direct for the latest listing of sales territories that qualify for the 70% royalty.

Please note, these prices and calculations are correct as of this writing, and may have changed since that time.

The key idea with eBooks is to get your book OUT in as many formats, and in as many distribution channels you can. Make sure that links to where people can purchase these products is very visible and easy to find on your website.

I hope this short introduction has given you a bit more information about the practical why, where and how of eBooks. There’s a LOT more to talk about, especially how to make the most of your eBook format and how to market it. But, we’ll save that for another day.

I would very much welcome to hear about your own experiences, so pleae LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW or drop me a line at http://spiritauthors.com/contact to let me know what you have learned in your own eBook adventures.

And do subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more info and insight into the world of writing, publishing and book promotions.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach and teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and bestselling author. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. She is also the creator of Spirit Authors, which offers training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Passionate about re-establishing our connection with the Earth, she supports the work of the Transition Town network in her hometown of Bedford, England.

Lynn’s Books:

International #1 Bestseller in Business Ethics, Marketing and Communication (Dec 2011)

Spirituality Bestseller (2009):

The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self (2009)

To contact Lynn for coaching, campaign management or media appearances, please fill in the form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Other the past few months, many authors have been writing to me all in a fluster over a controversy that apparently has arisen between Amazon and Lightning Source. I wanted to address this controversy because, frankly, I think a lot of people are having a knee-jerk reaction to what I think is basically an ethical issue, and I would like to show what I think might be a more ‘holistic’ response to it.

First of all, you need to know a bit about the parties involved and what is going on. Before we do that, let’s take a quick look at the flow that is involved in the production of any product, including your book:

1) It starts with the creator
2) It goes to the publisher
3) Then it goes to the manufacturer
4) Then to the distributor
5) Then to the retailer
6) Then to the consumer

STEPS 1 & 2: When you are truly self-publishing a book, YOU are also the publisher (so steps 1 and 2 are combined). But if you are going through a subsidiary press (such as iUniverse, Balboa Press or Create Space), you are not 100% ‘self published.’ On the one hand, you ARE self-published in that you don’t need a publishing deal and you retain all rights to your work. On the other hand, you are NOT self-published in that your subsidiary publisher is entitled to (usually) around 50% of your royalties as long as you print through them.

STEP 3: In printing, the ‘manufacturer’ is the printer. The publisher (even if that means you) then sends the book to the printer. Either we get a quantity of books printed in advance, or we use a “print on demand” (POD) service. Back when I first started out in the published world (and also when I ran a record company), you typically have to order 1000-2000 copies of your book (or record/CD) in order to get a decent price. Then, you always ran the risk of your publication sitting around collecting dust because you couldn’t move 2000 copies. Since the rise of POD in the publishing industry, that risk and investment has been removed for self-publishing authors. Lightning Source is one such POD service, certainly the most known in the world, and the one I use and recommend to my clients. Instead of having to buy 2000 copies of your book and the ship them to distributors, they print them ONLY when you have a customer for them (whether wholesale or retail), so you only pay for what you know you are going to sell.

STEP 4: The next step is to send the books to a distributor who then sells the books to retail shops. Of course, this saves the publisher a heck of a lot of time and energy, so the distributor is one of the most important pieces of the sales puzzle. Distributors typically buy your product between 50-60% off the retail price (55% is the most common), so they can sell it on to retails shops, and the retail shops can make a profit. That means if your book is selling for $10, they will pay around $4.50 for your book. From that price, you deduct your printing costs (I spoke about this in another article – Click HERE if you’d like to read it), and that is your profit.

Now what is so cool about Lightning Source is that they will also distribute your book for you via Ingram Book Company. Mind you, that does NOT mean that retail shops will necessarily BUY your book. It just means that they can supply them with your book if they order it.

STEP 5: The next step is the retailer. The retailer is the ‘shop’, whether online or on the ground, that sells your book to the customer. Typically, in my experience, retailers in the book and record industry buy your product for between 35-45% off the retail price. That means they will pay about $6.00 for a $10 book, which means the distributor makes about $1.50 per book sold, and the retailer makes about $4.00. However, as we all know, retailers like to be able to have a good profit margin so they can LOWER the price, to be able to entice customers to buy your product OR to get RID of a product that isn’t selling (let’s hope that doesn’t happen to OUR books!). Back when I was a retailer, I often had to sell “dead stock” at cost or even BELOW the price I paid for it. It’s the only way to keep cash flow going. So retailers take a risk every time they buy something. They want to know they can sell it.

STEP 6: The last step, of course, is the customer. The customer likes to get a good deal on a product. That’s why, if you give your distributor a good discount in the first place, the retailer will have the freedom to lower his price and get more people to buy your book.

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

The thing that confuses me is how Amazon fits into this picture. Now I have a close connection to Amazon in that much of my business depends upon it, as I work with authors. And as a customer, I have also found them to be both reliable and convenient. Authors love to see their books on Amazon because they can reach a wider audience much more quickly than they could by going only through traditional distribution routes to retail shops. All in all, Amazon is a great asset for us authors.

But here’s where things are a bit hazy. According to their entry on Wikipedia, they are it is often called the world’s largest online retailer. Most of us associate Amazon with books, but they have really expanded and now sell just about everything.

So Amazon is a ‘retailer’ (Step 5 in the model above) BUT for some strange reason, when it comes to purchasing power, they are not paying the same price for the books they sell as other retailers. In fact, they are paying the price that wholesalers/distributors pay for your book (Step 4). That means they are buying books at an average of 15% LESS than other retailers. This means they have a tremendous advantage in that they can seriously undercut your High Street book shop.

But wait… there’s more…

As many of you know, Amazon also now has a subsidiary press called Create Space. This means they are also now operating at Step 2 of the model above (I’m not sure who their printer is). This means they are now getting that extra 50% of your end profits when you publish through them. Now, fair enough, I can fully understand that Amazon saw the opportunity to profit from the self-publishing boon. It’s called free enterprise. I have no argument with that, as it totally makes sense.

However, here’s the problem…

Recently, word on the street is that Amazon is started a new policy of listing books that come from Lightning Source and other POD suppliers as being “Out of Stock” with sometimes an estimated 1-3 week delivery status! Lightning Source are aware of this, and say that they are ‘continuing to look into the issue and are evaluation our options to address it.”

Of course, this makes no sense whatsoever because when you use a POD service there’s no such THING as being ‘out of stock’. Your digital file is always ready to be printed and is in fact printed as soon as the POD service gets the order.

Some authors have been writing to me in a panic over this, and asking my opinion if I think they should switch from being 100% self-published to going with Create Space, because then they would be assured to be listed as “in stock” (as Amazon will ONLY guarantee this status for their own subsidiary press).

Here’s my answer:

Absolutely NOT!

Why? Partially from a practical level, and partially from an ethical one.

The practical argument: First of all, in my experience, authors who publish through Create Space appear ONLY on the US Amazon site (Amazon dot com) until they reach a certain sales status. I learned this the HARD way when a client of mine launched last year with me, and a couple of weeks before launch we realised she did not appear on the Canadian or UK sites. Now let me assure you, the Canadian and UK mind-body-spirit markets are nothing to ignore! Many of my clients sell as many books in Canada as they do in America, taking them rapidly up to #1 in Canada as Canada has 10% of the population of the US. These are very important markets for spiritual and self-help authors.

The ethical argument: Secondly, I have major issues about the ethics of this situation. Amazon is trying to wear 3 different ‘hats’ here: the publisher (Step 2), the distributor (Step 4) and the retailer (Step 5) in the sales chain. Each of these ‘steps’ has ethical obligation to be equitable to their customers, whoever they may be. And the break in this system is the conflict of interest they have between Step 2 and Step 4, which gives them an unfair advantage at Step 5. First of all, I have no idea how Amazon managed to gain the status of a distributor in the first place when they are not distributing to anyone; they are retailing directly to the public. But that aside, if Amazon are playing the role of a distributor to other publishers, it seems incredible that they would treat these publishers—who are their customers—any differently from their OWN publishing company. The two hats have to remain separate; otherwise, what we are verging on is a violation of anti-monopoly trade laws. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we hear about a litigation in the near future.

So what do we do?

One blogger’s suggestion was to go with BOTH Create Space and Lightning Source, so as to ensure your book is shown as ‘in stock’ on Amazon all the time. Well, I’m sorry, but I refuse to succumb to the bullying.

My personal solution is two-fold:

1) Use your power of the pen to write about this in as many places as you can so Amazon starts to feel the heat and
2) Education your audience about the situation. In other words, when you do a launch or publicise your book TELL your readers that it might say ‘out of stock’ on Amazon, and that it is simply not true.

Authors should be able to set up their own publishing companies and be treated like any other company. I am a believer in FREE enterprise, which means that big businesses must not be allowed to bully the small business owner out of their own enterprise. Small business owners are the life-blood of the world, and nearly all of our current economy AND environmental problems are due to our current dependency upon big businesses in general.

I love Amazon and I have no desire to ‘take them down’. But as consumers, and self-publishers, let’s at least hold them accountable for their behaviour by not reacting to such unethical bullying strategies.

All power to the self-published author!


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach and teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and bestselling author. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. She is also the creator of Spirit Authors, which offers training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Passionate about re-establishing our connection with the Earth, she supports the work of the Transition Town network in her hometown of Bedford, England.

Lynn’s Books

The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self (2009)

The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell Coming December 2011.

To contact Lynn for coaching, campaign management or media appearances, please fill in the form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Sign up for Lynn’s 2x monthly newsletter “Creative Spirit”, exclusively for AND about mind-body-spirit authors, and receive two free audios on personal transformation

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As a book promotion expert and book campaign manager, I receive a LOT of requests for consultations from authors who are preparing to publish their books. Some are experienced authors who have published in the past, either self-published or through a royalty publisher. Others are first-time (and usually self-published) authors. During our initial consultation, I tend to hear many of the same questions again and again. As these questions are so key to authors before they decide whether or not to do a full-blown “bestseller launch” for their book, I thought it might be a good idea to pull together my “Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions” I am asked by authors on almost a daily basis.

Q1: How many books will I sell during my online book launch?

First of all, let’s define “the launch” as a 24-48 hour period of time in which we will be driving traffic to buy your book. Asking how many books you will sell during that time is really like asking “How long is a piece of string?” It depends upon so many factors that we can only, at best, give a very broad figure. I have had clients who sell as few as 50 books during a launch and others who have sold around 1000. The average self-published author tends to sell between 300 and 500 books during a launch. Those with major publishers might sell twice that amount, not necessarily because the publisher helps with your promotion, but more because people recognise the “brand identity” of the publisher and are more willing to take a chance on the title. And of course, if you are not a first-time author you will probably sell more books if people know your name already. The key to selling more books is to devote a fair amount of time well before your launch to cultivate and grow your audience. That’s why I spend the first two months of work with my clients developing strategies and systems to build their platform and mailing list before anything else.

Q2: How do I become an Amazon bestseller?

If your book sales are amongst the Top 100 in any category on Amazon, you are technically a “bestseller.” You don’t have to be in the Top 100 of all books. There are dozens of categories and sub-categories on Amazon, and if you achieve a sales ranking in the Top 100 in any of these, you can say you are a bestseller. Of course, it is always nice to hit the “Top 20” or the “Top 5” or (best of all) the #1 sales rank in one or more categories.

Q3: How many books do I need to sell to be an Amazon bestseller?

Again, this is not a question I can answer definitively because being an “Amazon bestseller” is a relative title, and it depends upon: 1) how well other books in your categories are selling on your launch day and 2) how competitive your categories are. Some categories like “Religion and Spirituality” or “Business and Investing” are extremely competitive with thousands of titles up against many famous authors for the top position on the list. Other categories, such as “channelling” or “alternative medicine” are less competitive.

Q4: How can I choose the category I will be in on Amazon?

If you were to ask this question of some of the top publishers (I have), the common answer you will receive is this: “You can’t.”However, I have found this not to be 100% true. Let me explain.

First of all, when you submit a book for publication through Lightning Source (for example), you choose 2 “BIC” (Book Industry Communication) categories, which are standard categories that are used by all publishers and distributors. Now the problem lies in how retailers interpret these categories. Think of the last time you went to look for a book in the shops. Sometimes it might be in the “self help” category, while other times it might be in the “spirituality” section, etc.

Amazon “interprets” your BIC categories according to their “virtual” bookshelf. To make things even MORE confusing, Amazon UK, Canada and US might not interpret your book at all in the same way. Even major publishers have told me they have no real control over this. Some authors find their books placed in very strange categories. BUT here’s the big secret I have found: I your book is not ranking in the right category, you CAN get Amazon to change it via Author Central in the US and the UK. Just write to them and ask them to recategorise your book. My book The 7 Graces of Marketing was placed in the “accounting” category at first (NOT!!). When I wrote to Author Central, they very quickly and painlessly put the book into the cateogries I requested: business ethics and marketing/sales.

If you are unsure of what categories to choose, your best bet to get your book in the RIGHT category is to do some market research to find out which categories other titles appear that you feel are the closest in content or message to your own book. Don’t go for a “top level” category like “Business and Finance” or “Health and Wellness””. Go for a sub, or even sub-sub category. Get it as precise as possible. That will not only help you increase your likelihood of reaching the top of the ranks (as it will be less competitvie) bit it will also increase the likelihood of people who are looking for your book will find it, because Amazon’s system will group it together with similar books.

Then, make triple sure you get placed correctly, do two more things: 1) make sure your title, subtitle, back cover copy and description use keywords that help point the folks at Amazon in the right direction AND 2) start putting some TAGS on your book page that help people find your book.

PLEASE NOTE: All of the above is mainly with respect to PRINT books. For Kindle, you can actually SPECIFY two categories via Kindle Direct. These bypass the BIC settings altogether, as Kindle is an Amazon proprietory format.

Q5: Why don’t I see my book listed in a category on my Amazon listing?

You won’t see your book listed in a category unless it is in the Top 100 of that category. Until that time, all you will see is its overall sales rank, which changes every hour. Amazon US and Canada tend change just past the top of the hour, while Amazon UK tends to change at 40 minutes past the hour.

Q6: How can I find out in which categories Amazon will place my book?

It’s not always 100% reliable, but the best way to “guess” which categories you will appear is to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen until you see the words, “Look for Similar Items by Category.” There you will see several suggested categories that are likely to be where your book will be placed when ranked. If these categories look range or irrelevant, refer to Q4 above.

Q7: How can I track my rankings?

So far, Amazon does not have any legacy tracking system for rankings, which means you basically have to watch the rankings yourself like a hawk during the launch, as they change every hour. Typically, my clients and I stay up for the full 24 hour period in shifts, in constant communication on Skype, to watch the rankings. The only way I have found so far to “log” your success is to take screen shots. I use the program “Jing Pro” for this. There is a free version, but the Pro version is very reasonable, and has many worthwhile features. You can download it at http://www.techsmith.com/jing/. DO take screenshots of EVERY stage of your rankings. They make great images to add to your promotions when you are sharing the success of your book with readers, media and event managers. To track your rankings for OVERALL book sales, see Q8 below.

Q8: How can I track my actual sales?

Tracking sales is another matter altogether. Of course, the most reliable method is when you receive your royalty report and payment from your publisher or printer. However, these can some to you months after your launch. There are two ways I have discovered that can give you ball-park figure of your sales during a launch. Once is to use your Amazon Associates link on your purchase page, in which case you will see the sales appear within a few days in your Associates account. Another is to use an online tracker such as Novel Rank at http://novelrank.com, which can show sales on a daily and monthly basis. They also show, in numbers and in graph format, your overall sales rankings (not category rankings) over a given period. Bear in mind, to get the best from this service, you need to start tracking your book on their site several weeks in advance of your launch.

Another option is to sign up for Amazon Advantage, although as far as I can tell, you can only sign up for this if you will be directly supplying Amazon with inventory. If a company such as Lightning Source will be printing your books on demand or you will be using a subsidiary publisher, you will need to speak to them about whether or not you can use Amazon Advantage, as they will be fulfilling the sales and sending you the payments and sales reports (of course they will also have some sort of reporting system for your sales as well, which will tell you your overall sales, not just to Amazon).

Kindle sales are updated once a week in Kindle Direct.

Q9: How much money will I make on book sales during my launch?

This depends completely upon:

  1. How many books you sell
  2. The retail price of your book
  3. The cost of printing your book
  4. What your royalty arrangement is with your publisher (if you have one)
  5. Whether or not you use your Associates account for sales.

Let’s say you have a 250 page book that sells for $15 and you sell 500 books on your launch day. That is a gross intake of $7500. Amazon pays you according to whatever wholesale “discount” you have agreed to sell your books to them. Let’s say you have agreed to sell your book to them for a 55% discount off the retail price (a fairly common figure, although this can vary). That means they will pay your publisher 45% of gross, which is $3375. If you are the publisher, you will receive that money from Amazon.

From that amount, you need to deduct your printing costs. The cost of printing a 250 page book through a company like Lightning Source is around $4.15 ($0.90 per unit and then $0.013 per page), which means 500 books would cost $2075. Deduct that from what Amazon will pay you, and that leaves a net profit of around $1300.

If you are going 100% self-published, you will make the whole $1300. But if you are receiving a percentage of net from your publisher, you would take the percentage from this amount. Many subsidiary presses take 50% of net, which means you would make $650on 500 books. If you are working with a royalty publisher who pays you a given percentage of retail or net, you will have to calculate it accordingly.

If you use your Amazon Associates link during your launch, you can earn between 4% and 7% of your retail sales as a commission. In other words, if Amazon were to sell 500 books at $15 (although they will tend to sell it at a lower price), you would make an extra $0.60 – $1.05 per unit. You ALSO make a commission if your buyers happen to buy other products at the same time. It all adds up, so it’s worth making sure your links are in place during a launch.

Please note that these figures are accurate as of this edit (July 26th, 2011).

UPDATE DEC 2011: I’ll be writng another article in the New Year about chosing the right royalty structure for your publication and different ways to use eBooks/Kindle to drive traffic to your print book. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to stay on top of new info articles.

Q10: What’s the real benefit of doing an Amazon bestseller launch?

I’ll be honest with you: it costs a heck of a lot more to run a bestseller launch than you will receive in immediate monetary returns. I think you have probably already deduced that doing an Amazon bestseller launch is NOT going to make you lots of money selling books. So it does beg the question why people bother to do them at all, and why people like me are continually booked months in advance to do these launches.

So here are some of the real advantages of doing an Amazon launch:

  1. It builds your online platform significantly, which ultimately leads to more business for you
  2. It establishes long-term relationships with dozens of networking partners
  3. It raises your credibility as a professional, which has an impact upon your income
  4. It establishes you as a leading expert in your field, making you a sought-after media guest and keynote speaker
  5. It just plain feels great to say you’re a bestselling (especially a #1 selling) author

Deciding to do a bestseller campaign should not be an impulsive decision, nor should it be entered with rose-coloured glasses. My most successful clients are those who entered our work relationship with this level of understanding. They did not have unrealistic expectations, and they took the “kudos” of their bestseller status to build stronger and more viable businesses that could only have come about as a result of their Amazon bestseller campaign. I think most of these would tell you their decision to do a launch made a positive difference in their business.

I hope this article is useful to any of you who are currently preparing to publish a book in the coming year. Please do leave comments below and feel free to contact me via the contact form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact if you have any questions about this content, or you wish to discuss an upcoming launch.

And, as always, don’t forget to subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for regular tips for authors, both established and aspiring.


Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self, as well as the upcoming book The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell. She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced several #1-selling book campaigns. She is the founder/creator of Spirit Authors, a virtual learning environment and community that offers training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. As part of her work with spiritual and self-help authors, she also regularly hosts large-scale online virtual events (usually free of charge) with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Subscribe to her Spirit Authors blog at http://spiritauthors.com/category/news/ so you can receive more useful tips and news about upcoming online events. While you are there, do check out the excellent and affordable online courses for authors available.

If you are an author seeking 1-to-1 support or campaign managment for your upcoming book launch, you are also invited to request a free consultation by filling in a contact form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact. Please note that full service campaigns require a 6 to 8 month lead-in time, so be sure to contact Lynn well in advance of publishing your book.

HeadphonesAuthor, book promotion coach Lynn Serafinn shares her tips on building your list by giving away great audio to your social media network.

Authors are always looking for ways to promote their books online. However, many are under the mistaken impression that promoting your book means you need to put excerpts on your blog or give away free chapters for download. And while giving away parts of your book might seem to make a lot of sense, it’s not necessarily the most effective way to promote your book online. The Internet is flooded with information. Even free content has got to kick some serious butt to make an impression on readers these days, who probably have a backlog of things on their “to read” list.

So instead of running the risk of becoming yet another unread masterpiece, I’d like to suggest authors put down the pen (or their keyboard) for a little while and start recording their voice instead.

Yes, I’m talking about giving away audio instead of all your precious writing. Why audio? Well, for one thing, if you follow some of the tips below, you don’t have to do much to produce the content. Secondly, audio has a higher perceived value than simple text. And lastly, audio get your audience closer to you. Speaking to your audience directly, and letting them get to know the sound of your voice, is both powerful and intimate.

What kind of audio can authors give to their readers?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Get yourself booked on some Internet radio shows and then give away the recordings of some of your interviews (ask the host if it’s ok first, of course). Make sure the interviews are content-rich and interesting to the listener. If they are just “pitches” about your book, no one will be interested in them. In a future article, I’ll give you some tips about getting booked on shows.
  2. If you don’t have any interviews in the coffers, set up a webinar on your topic (or a series of them), use the recordings of those. Not only will it be a good promotional activity on the day, but you can reuse the audio as an ongoing give-away gift.
  3. You can also do a live reading of the most powerful part of your book in front of a small audience and record that, or record it directly into your PC if you don’t happen to have an audience on hand.

Use your imagination, but make sure you give away at least 15 minutes of audio as your free gift. Some of my giveaways have as many as 8 hours of audio, depending upon the subject matter.

How good must the quality be?

If you are recording at home, be sure your audio is recorded and mixed down to MP3 format at a sample rate of 44.1kHz at 16 bits. If your recording is from an Internet broadcast, it will be compressed and the audio quality will be much lower resolution, but for a free gift, that is usually acceptable. Some conference line recordings, however, are at set to such a low fidelity they are really not usable. Do a test run first and listen back to it. If there’s a lot of noise (indicating low bit rate) or it sounds like you have a lisp every time you say the letter “s” (indicating the sample rate it too low), it might not be a wise choice.

MP3 PlayerHOW do you deliver your free audio gift?

Be sure you have created a way for people to DOWNLOAD the audio, rather than use an online player (such as Audio Acrobat). Remember that people like to play MP3s on their iPod or other portable player while driving in their car or commuting on the train to and from work.

Secondly, don’t deliver your audios all at once. Spread them out over a few days or send one audio per week. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is to allow your audience to take their time “consuming” your content. People might be speed readers, but there is no such thing as a “speed listener.” An hour of audio takes an hour to listen to it. When you deliver too much audio all at once, people are LESS likely to listen to any of it (I still have a couple of my offers set up like this, and keep meaning to change them). But the other reason why it is a good idea to spread out your delivery of audios is this: when you deliver four audios over a period of four weeks, it allows you to build a stronger relationship with your audience.

Make your “squeeze page” (the page where they enter their name and email to get your audio) as MINIMAL as possible. Don’t confuse the reader with other offers or links on your page. Make the audio the-one-and-only offer on the page, and resist the urge to link out to other pages of your website.

On your download page (the page people go to after they sign up for your audio) make sure you have a “call to action”, which should comprise of a picture of your book, a quote from a great endorsement, and a link to buy your book online (don’t forget to use your affiliate link if you have one!). Also put this same call to action at the end of any follow-up emails you might send them. If you are delivering a new audio every week, your readers will see this call to action every time they go to retrieve their new audio.

WHERE do you offer these free audios?

Ok, so here’s where the magic comes in. Here are some of my favourite uses. And the nice thing about them is that once you have them set up, you just walk away from them and let them do their magic:

  1. As a ‘thank you’ gift when they subscribe to your ezine/ newsletter (this is probably the most common way people use them)
  2. As a ‘welcome gift’ when they “like” your fan page on Facebook
  3. As a ‘bonus gift’ on a JV campaign for another author’s book launch
  4. As a ‘Thanks for Following Me’ gift to new Twitter followers using Social Oomph
  5. As a ‘random gift’ on Twitter or Facebook. Every now and then when you tweet, just tell people you’ve got a free audio for them. You can use Twaitter to schedule them to go out 1x a day, 1x week, or whatever you like.

And here’s a Bonus Tip:

*** Give your audio as a totally ‘unexpected gift’ in your bio at the end of an article… like the one you see below. 😉

I myself have numerous audio offers going out on a regular basis throughout the year, which add hundreds of new names to my list without my even trying. I hope these ideas spark your creative juices and help you build your own list and social media following with lots and lots of wonderful new people.

I love to know whether or not you found this article to be helpful. Please DO leave a comment below to let me know, or to write to me at http://spiritauthors.com/contact ask any questions you may have about this information.

Happy recording!

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Did you know that a lot of nice people hate marketing?

Artists, authors and holistic business owners are some of the most common. Maybe YOU are one of these people? Find out about the relationship between marketing, business owners, and the future of our planet in this 10-page eBook and 18 minute audio book “Why Nice People HATE Marketing” at http://spiritauthors.com/pages/bonus/why-nice-people-hate-marketing-request.html which is a sneak peek at just a handful of the cutting-edge ideas presented in the upcoming book The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell by Lynn Serafinn coming at September 2011. You can pre-order the book now on Amazon.

Book promotion expert Lynn Serafinn from Spirit Authors shares her tips on what every first-time author should know about royalties, retail price and printing costs before they self-publish a book.


Recently, in one of my LinkedIn Groups, a new author asked, “Does anybody have experience with self-publishing companies and the way they pay royalty fees?” I thought the answer to this question was something many new authors would like to know, so I thought I would share my response with my Spirit Authors readers. Below is a copy of the post I made on December 15th, 2010.

Hi there LinkedIn,

Here’s a breakdown of how most self-publishing royalties work:

By self-publishing companies, I assume you mean “publishers” such as iUniverse (probably the most known, but really only one of many) who set up your book to be distributed via print-on-demand (POD). The company I used for my first book is a small company called Authors Online – http://authorsonline.co.uk. I chose them because they are a small friends-and-family run company who take good care of their clients.

The POD press most often used is a company called Lightning Source. There are 2 major Lightning Source plants (when I last checked), one in Kentucky and one over here in England in Milton Keynes.

These kinds of companies don’t generally get your books into shops, but rather focus on Amazon, B&N, etc. The self-publishing publisher sets up your ISBN and arranges for your book to appear on all these online retailers. But be SURE you read the fine print. I had a scenario not very long ago when one of my clients went with Create Space (Amazon’s own print-on-demand publishing company) and they did NOT place the book on all 6 (now 7) Amazon sites throughout the world, cutting down SIGNIFICANTLY on my client’s sales. So be sure you ask if the company GUARANTEES you will be on all Amazon sites… but (if your book is in English), most especially Amazon US, Canada and UK.

Ok, so here are 7 facts about self-publishing and typical royalty structures:

1) Amazon buys your book for 45% of the retail price. That means, if you book retails for $10, Amazon pays your publisher $4.50 (not you… unless you actually START a publishing company and are selling the books directly to Amazon).

2) From that $4.50, your publisher subtracts their printing costs. Not sure of what they are in the US, but here in the UK, the costs are typically 1p (let’s say 2 cents) per page, plus 70p (let’s say $1.25) for the cover. So a 100 page book would cost $3.25 to print (don’t quote me on the exact figures; these were current as of 18 months ago in the UK. DO ask your publisher these questions).

3) If the book costs $3.25 to print, and you have received $4.50 from Amazon, it means your NET is $1.25.

4) Most self-publishers do a 50/50 split of the net, or in that ball park. That would mean your royalty per book sold is a whopping $0.67. Most payouts are quarterly, starting 4-6 months after publication.

5) Of course, you could also set the retail price higher to ensure you get a higher royalty. The best thing to do is to go online and check out similar books in the same niche, and check out their page count, and see how much their retail price is. Bear in mind, that Amazon will normally sell you book for LESS than retail, but you will still receive 45% of retail unless you tell them you are willing to take less in order to drive up sales (not recommended for first-time author, frankly!).

6) If you go FULLY self-published (i.e., set up your own ISBN, deal with Lightning Press, etc), then your royalty is 45% of retail. Subtract your printing costs from that, and that is your net profit per book. That is what I am doing with my next book.

7) Last option: getting the books printed in bulk (most do this overseas) can drive the cost per book WAY down, but you have a massive front-loaded investment at high risk because the minimum run is usually 1000 books or more to get a good price. PLUS you have the set-up costs, as it is not the same as digital POD. Any time I have seen new authors do this, they end up with a house full of hundreds of unsold books, and feel very discouraged. I don’t recommend it unless you have a solid promotional platform and good distribution set up. ALSO, bear in mind that if you go this route, book distributors tend to take the books on consignment and they don’t pay anything if the books don’t sell. And who do you think is responsible for the marketing? You guessed it – you. Furthermore, they might take 300 books from you when they first come out, but they can RETURN every book that hasn’t sold (or worse–been returned to the retail shops!) after a certain period of time.

BTW, I help self-published mind-body-spirit authors via my site Spirit Authors at http://spiritauthors.com. I’m re-opening Module 3 on self-publishing in February 2011. The course for writing your book (Module 1) and building your online platform (Module 2) are already available. You can take a 7-day test drive of those courses for only $1.

I also do full-service Amazon book launches at http://spiritauthorscoach.com. Drop me a line if you would like to chat.

Warm wishes,

Lynn Serafinn


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self.

Her upcoming book, The 7 Graces of Marketing, is coming in June 2011.

She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced several top-10 book campaigns, including FOUR #1-sellers, in 2010 alone. She created Spirit Authors to offer training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Contact Lynn about YOUR book project at at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for regular book writing and promotion tips (just fill in form at right of your screen).

Sign up for Lynn’s bi-monthly newsletter Creative Spirit (fill in form below) packed with inspirational articles, self-promotion tips, broadcast guide to her radio show, and news about upcoming spiritual author book releases.

Throughout the year, Lynn also hosts large-scale telesummits with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Your subscription to Creative Spirit will ensure you’ll be the first to know how to attend these free events.


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word writer on old fashioned typewriterLynn Serafinn shares thoughts on shifting from a being die-hard indie artist to approaching a major publisher.

Some of you who know me and my work might be surprised to find out that it was only a few months ago when I wrote my first full book proposal. It’s true I was a ghost-writer for another author and my work has been (anonymously) published in several books by a prominent New Age publisher. But I never needed to write proposals for those books. And it’s also true I’ve written loads of business and project proposals in my time– especially when I was the head of a college department– so I know what it takes to write a proposal to “land” a contract. But I had never written an actual book proposal for my own writing until this contest.

Why? Because most of my life, I’ve been something of a “die hard indie”. It comes from my background as an independent musician/label owner in the 1990s. Since the 80s, our band had tried to get our recordings heard by major labels, but learned quickly that it was virtually impossible to get a big label to listen to an unsolicited demo. So, we started our own label, and gradually built up a following by getting our titles into major independent distributors in the US and the UK. We reached a level of success when our release entitled the Imagine EP hit #1 on several club charts in 1994.

It was then we had a brief encounter with a major record label-one of the top 3 in the world. The A&R (the person who signs artists to the label) had been given our record as a “buzz” title from the owner of an underground record shop in Boston, and he called us from New York saying he wanted to come down and meet us in Arizona (where we lived at the time), as he was interested in signing us. Had they done so, it would have meant we would have had worldwide distribution, MTV videos and have been sent on tour with some of the biggest names in electronic dance in the world at that time. It was every musician’s dream come true.

Or so we thought.

When we actually met the A&R face-to-face, it became very obvious he had clear intentions of changing our image and sound into something we were not, and we simply didn’t want to become. Our band was an electronic trance group, but he proposed a long list of “improvements” for us, including bringing in big rock drummers and sexy young female vocalists. Being in our late 30s, the A&R more or less said we were “too old” for MTV and we would have to do something to make us “saleable.”

But the truth was, in spite of the A&R thinking we were “too old”, we were actually “too young” as artists to move into the arena of working with a major label. We weren’t used to working to deadlines and were accustomed to having the luxury of taking as long as we wanted to complete projects. We were still finding our “voice” and creating our sound, and bringing in professional producers who would impose their own “spin” on our embryonic sound threatened to stop our creative growth altogether. And from a marketing standpoint, although we had managed to get a #1 club hit, we were still just getting started on building our following and didn’t really know our target audience fully, or how to reach them at a global level. Because we had a very small platform, if the A&R changed our image as he intended, we were likely to lose the audience we already had, and not appeal to the audience to which he would be targeting.

We started to realise we simply weren’t ready for this leap. Believe it or not, I used to wake up at night with panic attacks at the thought of it! After all those years of thinking this was what I wanted, I realised something wasn’t right about it. As a result, our connection to the label just sort of dissolved after a couple of months, and our label continued on with our own independent enterprises.

My experience in the music industry certainly coloured my decision to go self-published when I was getting ready to release my book The Garden of the Soul in 2009. I figured big publishers are probably like big record labels in that you needed to know the right time to approach them. And now that I have been self-published for the past year, and have since created successful marketing campaigns for many other authors, both published and self-published, I do think my reasoning was correct.

In my experience, there are 7 main factors to consider in your decision to approach a publisher:

  1. Discipline. Could you make a commitment to meet writing deadlines if given them? Have you transcended the trap of ONLY being able to write when you are “inspired” or can you sit down and get into the groove when you need to?
  2. Stylistic maturity. Is your writing style “mature” (well past the embryonic stage)? Could others easily talk about your style and your message as compared to other books? Is your style powerful and developed enough that editors would not want to change it significantly?
  3. Emotionally prepared. Are you ready to “show up” as a public image? Are you ready to be seen, and critiqued? Are you ready to speak transparently on a global level? Are you ready to release your vision, unattached to whether people like it or not?
  4. Identity. Do you know who you are as a writer and as a person? Do you have a clear idea of your ‘public image’, i.e, who you are to your readers, fans and audience? Can you stand calmly within the wisdom of your own identity when dealing with a publisher?
  5. Platform. Do you have a well-established platform (i.e., a large fan base of people who know your name and your writing)? This is undoubtedly one of the major factors publishers will consider when you approach them, and something that will make it much less likely for them to try to “reshape” your image.
  6. Marketing. Do you know how to reach your audience? Do you understand principles of marketing? Can you explain how you would market your book to publisher in a way that would make them say, “Hey, this one has some great ideas”?
  7. Time Commitment. Are you ready and able to commit LOTS of time to promoting your book? Is your life free or flexible with regards to family or other work commitments? Could you travel frequently without disrupting the rest of your life?

Speaking for myself, I couldn’t give a 100% “yes” answer to any of these things when I first met the A&R back in 1994. In 2009, when I went to publish The Garden of the Soul, I’d say I had these covered about 75%. But, in my opinion, 75% wasn’t enough for me to approach a publisher at that time. Before I approached a publisher, I wanted to be able to give my full 100%. THEN the time would be right… at least for me.

When I wrote my proposal this year, I felt it to be truly a transformative process. I realised when I was writing it that I had finally reached my “100% Ready” place. I knew who I was. I felt I could write at the drop of a hat. I had a platform. I understood marketing. And most of all, I had already written my book and I completely believed in it.

Being a self-published writer was ABSOLUTELY the best thing for me when I had chosen to do so. The experience helped me develop as a person, as a writer and as a businesswoman. But now I have firmly established my platform, and really know who I am as a writer, I feel confident about making the shift to working with a publisher over the coming year… and at the same time, I also have the confidence that I am able to flourish as a proud indie author, and enjoy the ride on my own as well.

I hope you found these reflections and pointers to be of value in your own journey as an author. Please do leave a comment below to share your own thoughts and experiences.


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and
bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers
that unearth the Self.
She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced several #1-selling book campaigns. She is the founder/creator of Spirit Authors, a virtual learning environment and community that offers training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. As part of her work with spiritual and self-help authors, she also regularly hosts large-scale online virtual events (usually free of charge) with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Subscribe to her Spirit Authors blog at http://spiritauthors.com/category/news/ so you can receive more useful tips and news about upcoming online events. While you are there, do check out the excellent and affordable online courses for authors available. If you are an author seeking 1-to-1 support or campaign managment for your upcoming book launch, you are also invited to request a free consultation by filling in a contact form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.


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