Archive for Self-Publishing

Another Fresh NEW Book from One of Our Valued Clients

Lynn Serafinn interviews Chris Scott on using imaging a colour book, working with a photographer, and how crossover authors can communicate their message.

Today, I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 7 of Chris Scott’s Virtual Blog Tour. Chris’ book Face With a Heart: Mastering Authentic Beauty MakeUp is celebrating its big Amazon launch TODAY, June 2nd, 2015.

NEWS UPDATE June 2nd:
This afternoon, Chris’ book Face With a Heart hit #1 bestseller in “Cosmetics” on Amazon US.

CHRIS SCOTT, M.A. is the creator of San Francisco-based Makeup Gourmet®. Over his nearly 30-year career, in addition to doing makeup for top models from every corner of the planet, he has also had the honor of working for legends like Paul McCartney, US Vice President Al Gore, Shirley Temple Black, Maya Angelou and Olympic Gold medalists Oksana Baiul and Kristi Yamaguchi. He was the creator and host of the TV show Makeup Gourmet from 2008 to 2010, he was a leading Chanel Beauté national artist for over two decades, and is also the creator and guest teacher of Fashion Makeup at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He created his unique Makeup Gourmet line to ensure his clients and the public have access to high-quality, ethically produced, ‘green’ makeup and skincare with a low-carbon footprint. Chris is also the author of the wonderfully visual ‘how to’ book Face with a Heart: Mastering Authentic Beauty Makeup (2014), as well as Cosmetic Counter Survival Guide: How to Buy the Right Skin Care and Makeup (2003).

Yesterday, Chris visited Mali Apple and Joe Dunn at http://bit.ly/1JJYsPI where they talked about tapping into our own beauty, and why authentic beauty is unrelated to our age.

Today, I’d like to share a recent interview I had with Chris when I got to ask him some questions on how to choose visual images for a full-colour book, working with a photographer, and how ‘crossover’ authors can communicate their message to their audience. I hope you enjoy it.

*** INTERVIEW ***

Lynn: As a makeup artist, your challenges as an author are different from many of us, as your work depends upon having excellent images/visuals in your book. What tips would you give other authors about planning and selecting the right images for their books, and about choosing and working with a photographer?

Chris Scott of Makeup Gourmet, author of 'Face with a Heart'

Author Chris Scott

CHRIS: For original images, commit as much time to the image production and selection process as to the writing process. Be annoyingly picky. Do not waste your time with a ‘bargain’ photographer. Get a pro. Shoot it right.

I also suggest tapping into the vast online stock image libraries. Pay the royalty fee and the image is yours to use without any copyright infringement. This is a real time/money saver if appropriate for your title.

Something I also did before I released the book to the public, I made some prototype copies and handed the books to selected individuals, observing how they responded to each image as they skimmed the book.

I spent an equal amount of time working with an illustrator for this book. There is no substitute for this. If you need to illustrate a point, illustrate it to your exact specifications. Specificity and meticulousness will pay off in rewarding dividends.

Lynn: I see your book as a ‘crossover’ in the market. It’s not just about ‘how to put on makeup’ but it’s also about self-image, confidence and inner beauty. How easy or difficult was it to communicate this combination message when you were writing your book?

CHRIS: The process is about embracing my authentic message and lending it a visual and textual voice. I love to deconstruct to clarify each element. It is the breaking down and then the rebuilding that helps me (and others) grasp the authentic beauty message. This is how I teach so this is how I write.

Lynn:  How easy or difficult has it been to bring this crossover message in your marketing or when you are telling other people about your book? How do you make sure people ‘get it’ and get what you are all about?

CHRIS: I do it through open-ended sound bites and questions that inspire conversation. As this is a layered philosophy, it is important to present the layers individually and then expand from where people first engage with the conversation. Here are two strong examples. For some it is all about the makeup, for others it is about wanting to stay true to themselves and not put out an air of falseness.

To be 100% corny, this is the easiest thing I have ever marketed because I have tested it so much and believe so devoutly in my message. I know it works and love finding ways to turn peoples head in my direction to see the new alternative to traditional beauty makeup.

Lynn:  What advice would you give other authors who want to bring a ‘mind body spirit’ slant to something not usually associated with it, like you have done with makeup?

CHRIS: First, believe it. Second, test it.

I employed the why/how technique with this book. I first tell people why I am doing something and then tell them how. The ‘why’ informs the ‘how’ and gives it context and meaning.

By the way, two of my favorite examples of authors ‘spiritualizing’ their passions are Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig and Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity by John Kao.

My advice to mind-body-spirit authors is this: Be fearless and say exactly what you mean. People will hear you. We all find solace in something in which we excel. Deconstruct that solace and share it along with sharing your expertise. They are inseparable, so write from your heart as I did with Face with a Heart.

*** END OF INTERVIEW ***

 

BOOK: 'Face With a Heart' by Chris ScottI hope you enjoyed this interview with Chris Scott and that you’ll check out his book Face With a Heart: Mastering Authentic Beauty Make-Up during his big Amazon launch TODAY, June 2nd. When you buy the book during the launch, you’ll receive dozens of free gifts from Chris, and his friends and colleagues. You can CLICK HERE to find out more about the book and these free gifts.

One of the gifts when you buy the book is the MP3 downloads to Chris’ 3-Day Telesummit ‘The Keys to Feeling Authentically Beautiful’, with fabulous panel of 11 internationally renowned image experts.

To get the book and receive all the authentic beauty bonus gifts, go to
http://makeupgourmet.com/book-launch/pages/pre-launch.php

*** FOLLOW CHRIS ON HIS BLOG TOUR ***

If you’d like to catch more of Chris’ Virtual Blog tour, ‘visit’ him at these dates and places:

WEDNESDAY MAY 27th: Andrew Mondia’s Pear-Shaped View Blog at http://bit.ly/1Go22vZ where they will talk about how beauty is for everyone, inner beauty, and seeing yourself through the eyes of others.

THURSDAY MAY 28th: Tina Games’ Moonlight Musings blog at http://bit.ly/1nJGkuY where they will talk about authentic beauty, believing you are beautiful, and the difference between ‘classic’ and ‘authentic’ beauty makeup.

FRIDAY MAY 29th: Callie Carling’s Cancer Goddess blog at http://bit.ly/1Jv46Zf where they will talk about how light affects the way we look, and regaining confidence through authentic beauty.

SATURDAY MAY 30TH: Dana Taylor’s Supernal Living blog at http://wp.me/p1yTXR-AL where they will discuss authentic beauty for the older generation, and the keys to maintaining healthy skin as we age.

SUNDAY MAY 31ST: Michelle Galatoire’s Nourish and Bloom blog at http://bit.ly/1DBQWCI where they will talk about being seen authentically in public, and how to see ourselves the way other people see us.

MONDAY JUNE 1ST: Mali Apple’s and Joe Dunn’s The Soulmate Experience at http://bit.ly/1JJYsPI where they will talk about tapping into our own beauty, and why authentic beauty is unrelated to our age.

TUESDAY JUNE 2nd: Lynn Serafinn’s Spirit Authors blog at http://wp.me/p3cvXN-Tf where they’ll be talking about how to choose visual images for a full-colour book, working with a photographer, and how ‘crossover’ authors can communicate their message to their audience.

Thanks for reading! Please share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.

Lynn Serafinn


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 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, 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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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)

 

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

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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:

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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

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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

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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

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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

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

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


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
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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


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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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 Book coach and marketing consultant Lynn Serafinn shares her top tips for creating a book title that invites your ideal audience to check out what’s inside. 


We think of authors as masters of words. Yet dozens of authors have told me that they feel at a loss for words when it comes to nailing a great title and subtitle for their non-fiction book.

Coming up with a great title and subtitle for a non-fiction book is a real art. Personally, I love it and it’s one of my favourite activities during my clients’ sessions. It’s not uncommon to spend an entire 2-hour session helping to ‘tease’ the title and subtitle out into the open. The perfect words almost always come from something they say randomly and spontaneously. I listen very carefully, taking lots of notes, and then play around with the rhythm and sound of the words until something just ‘hits’. When I get it right, the response from the client is truly rewarding. Most say they ‘feel chills’ or say that their eyes are welling up. That’s when you know the title is a winner.

A great title is not only for your audience; it’s also for YOU, the author. I believe it’s important to get your title right as early as possible in the writing process because a great title isn’t just something for the cover of the book; it can often GIVE you the shape of the book and bring cohesion to the subject. I worked somewhat aimlessly for 6 months on what was later to become The 7 Graces of Marketing. As soon as the ‘hook’ of the ‘7 Graces’ came to me, the shape, structure and focus of the book became immediately apparent, and gave power and impact to my writing.

An effective non-fiction title has two equally important components: the title and the subtitle. Let’s look at each of them in turn.

The Title of Your Book Should be the ‘HOOK’

  • It should contain the ‘brand’, the gimmick, the USP (unique selling point) or the paradigm of the book.
  • It should be able to ‘hook’ the mind of the reader so they cannot confuse it with other book titles.
  • It should not contain words that are too vague or too common or whose meaning could just as easily refer to something completely different.

In pop music, the ‘hook’ refers to the part of the song that people can’t forget. It could be a single line, an instrumental riff or the chorus that they go away humming or hearing in their heads. Similarly, your book title has to have that ‘stickiness’ so it stays with the reader and identifies this book as unique amongst all other books.

I get frustrated when clients come to me and have already become ‘attached’ to what is actually a very weak title for their book. Weak titles are those that are so vague or common that they don’t really identify the book as a unique entity. Your title needs to be memorable to the potential reader. If they don’t remember it, they won’t be able to find it in order to buy it.

The Subtitle of Your Book Should be the ‘PROMISE’

  • It should tell the reader exactly WHAT your book is about.
  • If possible, it should tell the reader WHO the book is for.
  • It should contain KEYWORDS that will appear in searches if people are looking for a particular topic.

In choosing your subtitle, avoid clichés, over-used jargon, and fluffy language. The subtitle needs to be substantive and clear, and should contain all the information the reader needs in order to decide whether or not they want to look inside your book. Notice I said ‘look inside’ not ‘buy’. ‘Looking inside’ could include actually leafing through the book (remember, Amazon has its ‘look inside’ feature), downloading a sample chapter, reading reviews, product description or perhaps even your author biography. A great subtitle is an invitation for readers to step in and check out ‘the promise’ of what they will find inside.

Listening to the Sound and Rhythm of Your Title

Maybe it’s because I come from a musician’s background, but to me, choosing a title and subtitle is not only about getting the right words, but also getting the right sound and rhythm of the words.

The ‘sound’ of a title has to do with the words themselves. Sometimes words say exactly what you mean them to say, but they’re damnably difficult to pronounce when you put them next to each other. I wrote an article recently called ‘Left-Brain Blogging for Right-Brain Marketers’. It’s a great article (and I love the title), but I noticed when I mentioned it in an online broadcast recently, it was like a tongue-twister (try it for yourself). It’s a great title for a blog post, but it could prove awkward for a book title.

The ‘rhythm’ of a title has to do with rise and fall of the words, the number of syllables and the strong/weak accents within them. How does your subtitle ‘feel’ when you say it aloud? Does it feel too long? Too short? Is there a musical quality to it that makes it pleasant to say? Does it feel like it should have ended a few syllables earlier?

If you’re not sure why sound and rhythm are important, think about being on the radio or TV. It does no good at all if the title of your book is likely to get you or your host all tongue-tied or stumbling over extra syllables. Besides, even when we read words on a page without speaking them aloud, we tend to ‘say’ them in our heads. If a title is hard to say out loud, it will also be hard for people to remember.

Examples of Non-Fiction Titles That Work

Below are a few examples of non-fiction titles that I think work nicely. Of course, I’m partial to some of them because I thought them up! Have a look at them and examine them for the ‘hook’, the ‘promise’, the ‘sound’ and the ‘rhythm’ of each one. I’ve intentionally NOT included the covers of the books, so you don’t ‘judge the title by the cover’.

EXAMPLE 1

Here’s the title of the latest book from former director of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper. To me, it’s one of the best non-fiction titles of the year (and one of the best non-fiction books of the year too). Notice how both the title and subtitle are plays upon common expressions, but with a twist that would immediately invite anyone interested in ecology, environmentalism or sustainability to pick up the book for a closer look.

TITLE (HOOK):
What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?

SUBTITLE (PROMISE):
How Money Really Does Grow on Trees

If you’re enticed by this title, you can find it on Amazon.com here: http://amzn.to/ZJJdxh

EXAMPLE 2

Here’s the title of one of my own books. Note how the title gives the paradigm (which is now a brand), and how the subtitle shows the promise and explanation of what the book is about. Say it aloud; I think you’ll feel there’s a musical rhythm to the title.

TITLE (HOOK):
The 7 Graces of Marketing

SUBTITLE (PROMISE):
How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell

Find this book at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/book

EXAMPLE 3

Here’s another one of my book titles. In this case, I’ve made up my own word for the title that is a play on the slang word ‘Tweep’ (meaning someone who uses Twitter) and the word ‘delicious’. It’s a playful, brandable word that enabled me to create a playful feel to the book cover and all the branding associated with the book. A more ‘functional’ title like ‘How to Use Twitter’ would have given it no life of its own, and would not have been a ‘hook’. The subtitle tells exactly what the book is about and who the book is for. While the subtitle is longer than I would normally recommend, part of its length was due to me wanting to get the title and subtitle to be exactly 140 characters, like a Tweet.

TITLE (HOOK):
Tweep-e-licious!

SUBTITLE (PROMISE):
158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically

Find this book at http://tweepelicious.com

EXAMPLE 4

Here’s a title I came up with for my client Erica Tucci, whose book is coming out in November 2013. Again, the title itself conveys the ‘USP’ and brand of the book, where ‘Radiant Survivors’ pertain not only to the storytellers within the book, but the readers. Notice how the subtitle not only contains the ‘promise’, but is loaded with appropriate keywords for this book.

TITLE (HOOK):
Radiant Survivor

SUBTITLE (PROMISE):
How to Shine and Thrive through Recovery from Stroke, Cancer, Abuse, Addiction and Other Life-Altering Experiences.

By the way, as she is still in recovery herself and still living on disability benefits, Erica is running a crowd-funding campaign to help her raise funds to publish this book. I encourage you to check it out and support her if you can at http://radiantsurvivor.com.

Closing Thoughts

The title of your non-fiction book contributes greatly to its success or failure. A great title can become the foundation of a long-term brand that underpins everything you do, speak about or represent.

Never rush through the process or ‘settle’ on a title just because you cannot come up with anything better. Just as you wouldn’t dream of giving your newborn child some throw-away name, don’t be nonchalant about choosing your title.

As I said at the beginning of this article, although gifted with words, many authors I meet find it difficult to tease out a great title on their own. Often they are too immersed in the subject matter to be able to take a ‘meta view’ of what they are creating. They also jump directly into their left-brain by ‘trying’ to think of a title, rather than allowing one to reveal itself from the cosmic soup of Creation. They also may not understand the impact their title or subtitle has upon their reading audience (or they may not know enough about who that audience is).

The bottom line about book titles is this:

Your title is the MOST important ‘marketing tool’ for your book.
Get it wrong, and everything else will suffer.
Get it right, and everything else will become easy.

Gaining clarity about your USP, your brand, your ‘promise’, your audience and your key message is absolutely essential before the ‘perfect’ title will emerge. This clarity already lies within you, whether you are aware of it or not. If you find it difficult to tap into that clarity on your own, working with a good book coach can often help.

I hope you found the information in this article helpful. Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

And, of course, if you’d like to speak with me about working together to fine-tune your title, brand, audience, marketing platform or book promotion strategy, drop me a line via the contact form on this site at http://spiritauthors.com/contact and we can set up a (free) 30 minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn
30th May 2013

 


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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
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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)

 

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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

 

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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)

 

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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

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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

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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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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Book promotion coach and campaign manager Lynn Serafinn reflects on the Law of Attraction when her client, Luis Diaz’s book  Memory in the Cells hits Number 1.

I learn so much every day of my life.

Let me set the context. Just a little over 24 hours ago, my fantastic client (and I really mean that), Luis Angel Diaz, launched his book Memory in the Cells: how to change behavioral patterns and release the pain body. The book, which was originally written in Spanish and has only now been translated into English, is about healing your emotions at the deepest level of your being. I first met Luis on the Ning networks, and have watched his work for the past few years. When he first approached me to be the campaign manager for his book, I knew that he already had cultivated a widespread, loyal audience in the Spanish-speaking world for decades, and that the release of this new translation of Memory in the Cells would be his first real introduction into the English-speaking audience at a global level.

Over the course of the past 5 months or so, I have been working closely with Luis and his team to create a wonderful promotional campaign that would reflect his personality, his values, and the true essence of what he does. That is really the fundamental principle behind all the promotional campaigns I co-create with my authors. My campaigns aren’t really about the book so much as they are about the author (and, yes, we create them together—that is absolutely vital). In this way, the campaign becomes something unique that cannot be duplicated by anyone else. It is my experience that when the heart and soul of the author is fully present within the core of the campaign, the campaign has a special sparkle to it that “magically” makes it work—even if it is a first-time, self-published author.

I call this approach “the path of least resistance to the Self” and it’s my fundamental principle to how I approach life. My core belief is that when we are truly and visibly authentic in the world, then all that is meant to flow into our lives comes to us with ease and grace.

“Ease” doesn’t mean we don’t WORK for it—heck no! Frankly, during these Amazon book launches, I have to block out 3 solid days because there is simply so much to do and so much promo copy to write that I’m pretty much “on call” 24 hours of the day during that time (I didn’t go to bed last night until 5am, and then I got up again at 9am). When I say “ease” I mean that the ideas are flowing, the energy is flowing and you just plain feel fantastic (even if you ARE in serious need of sleeping for about 12 hours straight after the launch is all over!).

Now, a lot of people might say that this sounds like the “Law of Attraction.” But the funny thing is, I never have used that term to describe my approach to life. In fact, I’ve pretty much shunned the term because I found the film version of The Secret to present things in a way I couldn’t really relate to. It all looked too simple—desire, believe, receive. I remember the scene in the film where the girl looks in the shop window at a very expensive necklace and it’s suddenly around her neck—well, I must confess it put me off the whole film because it seemed shallow to me (I do admit I have never read the book; I am told it is much better).

Well, what is so funny (or at least I think it is) is that yesterday I came face-to-face with The Secret, and I’m feeling like it’s a real test of my own power of intention!

Within a few short hours of the release of Memory in the Cells, it SHOT up like  rocket to the #1 place in Canada in three categories including Mental and Spiritual Healing and New Age (which is a massive category, and VERY hard to get to #1). Luis’s book even surpassed authors like Louise Hay and Eckhart Tolle and so many others you would recognise. Moreover, it achieved an astonished rank of 14th of ALL books in Canada. That means, out of something like 2 million titles, his is the 14th bestseller of ALL of them in any category. It’s remarkable to say the least, and I am really feeling pretty pleased with myself today, especially as (as of this writing), the book is STILL holding strong to the #1 place.

Have a look at the illustrious company he is in:

And again #1 in New Age in Canada…

But here’s where The Secret comes in.

The book also got as high as #5 in the UK and a very impressive #3 in the US, and the rankings in the US were just a few books shy of the top 100 of all books, which is, frankly, astronomically good for ANY author, what to speak of a self-published (and first-time in English) author like Luis. But you know how it is… once you have a taste for #1 you want it all. I WANT his book to go to #1 in the US. Like a hawk I’ve been watching the rankings every hour and I see it creeping up 1 notch at a time… holding at #3 for hours and hours and hours…

So then I thought I’d take a look to see what’s sitting in front of him at #2.

Can you guess?

Yup. Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret!

Ironic, isn’t it? It is sitting there like a big giggling challenge for me, seeing if my desire for Luis’ success is powerful enough to “attract” that elusive #1 slot in the United States. It’s asking me, “How much do you really want this?” “How much to you really believe you will receive it?”

Ok, here’s my answer: Totally on both counts.

I REALLY want this for both Luis and myself:

  • For Luis, I believe reaching that pinnacle in his genre would give a real push to his speaking platform in the United States, and worldwide.
  • And for me, well, I just keep aiming to get higher and higher on each campaign I create because every time I push the boundary that much more, it brings in more energy and potential for my future clients and makes my business stronger. It’s also creating more abundance not only in my life, but also in the lives of others, because the more my business grows, the more people I hire to work on campaigns with me!

So right now, I actually have come to a completely different relationship with The Secret and the idea of “Law of Attraction”. I am viewing both as a wonderful opportunity for me to create a solution to my desire for Luis to move into the #1 slot on Amazon US today.

And so I wrote this article.

And seeing “obstacles” as not being obstacles at all, but rather as opportunities for creating new solutions to what we most desire in life is, I suspect, what “The Secret” really is, after all.

So, as I said, I learn so much every day. :-)

Let’s see what happens.

You can find Luis’ wonderful #1-selling book Memory in the Cells at http://memoryinthecells.com. And just to “attract” you to check it out, if you buy the book TODAY, you can receive over 30 free downloadable gifts from an array of international experts in many fields of personal development. I’m also offering my mini eCourse “Making Friends with the Monsters Under Your Bed.” I’ve received well over 100 requests for the download in just the past day. Certainly attracting something!


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 FOUR #1-selling book campaigns, and another #2-selling campaign, 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, 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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Categories : Books and Authors, News
Comments (3)

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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