I particularly liked a posting by Rob Carver who suggested that writers simply talk to the ultimate buyers in their market to see what they want to read and buy. (This was part of a very interesting discussion in the Linkedin Group called Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Digital Books and Digital Content Publishing.)
Getting new book material from what my listeners said has made a huge difference in my own career, and I all but literally backed into it through speaking. Since that probably resulted in nine books for me, I thought you might be interested in my reply to that group:
For about 25 years I offered four-hour seminars, mostly in California, about 80-100 times a year. And for about 15 years I wrote a book a year related to the topics I spoke about: mostly publishing, writing, empire building, and paid speaking. Along the way I stumbled on the asking idea.
I’d design a new seminar and research it enough to add it into my repertoire the next year. Then I’d give that new seminar about 15-20 times, and every time a person asked a question or for some clarification, I’d answer the person but I’d also write down what he asked on a sheet of paper during the breaks, and once a week or so I’d type those notes up while they were still fresh. If it looked like a book was needed at the end of that cycle, I zeroed in on the heart of their comments (I also restructured my seminar to include more material about the new topic as I went along.) That became the core of a new book, and told me where to do more research (and interview folks who knew much more about the subject) so the new book had a lot more substance when it got to print. A couple of those books kept rooms full enough that I gave the same basic 75% programs all of those 25 years, and the back-of-the-room book sales from them paid all of my travel and costs.
In retrospect (as I write this) I had just the right audience to query too: they had paid about $50 to hear a how-to program about the very topic I was culling their questions about. Those folks were eager to know more and willing to pay to learn. They sort of pre-qualified themselves. (That assumes they weren’t there just to laugh at my three amazingly funny jokes or punishing puns.)
I’m not boasting because it was really happenchance, and then I just followed common sense. Since my most likely buyers were right in front of me, it also lessened having to work the bookstore for survival sales (although I did push library sales heavily). Lately, I’ve focused on niche publishing, but that too is the same kind of questioning, though a different marketing format of pretesting the topic before publishing the book at all, then letting the attendees tell me naturally what more they really wanted to know. (A lot of new info came from the informal Q-A that takes places during the breaks and after the program was over.)
Let me share a quick example. My most popular seminar (and book) was “How to Sell 75% of Your Freelance Writing.” While I focused on the writing and selling processes, from the outset folks asked how they could sell the same published magazine and newspaper articles over and over again. So I started outlining a book about that sub-theme right away, and as I went along I expanded that part of the seminar too. By the next year I had the “75%” book done, and a few months later a reprint and reselling book was ready too. The latter topic would never have occurred to me, that listeners wanted to know about secondary sales. Even better, I extracted 10 key points for the table of contents directly from what they asked me. The best news: that reprint/rewrite book sold very well for decades!
It all made sense: just ask your listeners what what they want to hear more of.
You get the idea. I’m talking about non-fiction and Rob was discussing fiction. I’ve barely dabbled in fiction (one dreadful novel) so I have no idea how well it would work there.
Never start writing a book with some title in mind that you aren’t willing to improve, change, or totally replace.
When I taught college journalism, an early assignment was to have the students write a 500-word newspaper feature piece. I’d tell them to write it, then see what they had to put in print, then give it a title (for exercise only since the editors almost always created a title that fit in the available space).
But of course most of the students plucked out some title first, then did three times as much work trying to squeeze their copy into that title!
So call the book “my book” or “the pancake book” until it’s final draft time. Then you’ll know what you have to sell and you can craft a title that will make those sales happen.
Open a new file page in your book folder and call it TITLES. Then write down 5, 10, 15 possible titles. Add and add … and as more titles come to mind in the coming days, add them too. (But don’t erase: you’ll need that erased word later. Just add the modified version below it. You can never have too many.)
You’re not working in the blind. You know the purpose of your book (this blog discusses your purpose statement) and who will want to read (and buy) it. You will develop a provisional table of contents. Let your “title” mind wander unencumbered in that pasture.
Let those titles marinate. Just don’t title too broadly—“How to Dream”—or too narrowly—“Putting Tips for Fat, Twitchy Octogenarian Bad Golfers.”
Include in the title, if possible, benefits you will bring the reader in your book, or needs you will help them meet.
Don’t forget to target your market as clearly as possible. If your book is about designing ideal law offices, don’t call it “Ideal Offices.” Anybody with an office will think it’s for everybody else! But “Lawyers: You Deserve a Perfect Office Like These.” They will think, “Here’s a book with a choice of great offices that I have to look at.” Bingo.
Later you will put the list in some provisional order and pick out the five best. But that’s after the first draft is proofed. Then you will match what you have on paper with what the intended buyer wants to buy. Just keep adding any new ideas as you go along; then forget about a title for now. (As I said, call it “My Book” in the meantime.)
Two more blogs may help with titling: “Five steps: how to pick your critical non-fiction book title” and “Keep your book title to yourself–at first!”
A personal thought: While I’m writing a book, along the way I often use the copy for magazine or newsletter articles. I often stumble into a very good titles for the articles. Sometimes I will use the same title, later, for the book, perhaps with some slight rewording. Or I will add a subtitle to that magazine or newspaper title that makes the book even better or more salable. For example, I might title the article “Six Secret Tips to Win the County Fair Blue Ribbon for Pancakes.” But I might call the book How to Win Every Blue Ribbon for Pancakes. Or I might put a colon after the article title and add a second deck to the title, maybe Twelve Unique, Irresistible Pancake Recipes.
As you can guess, I know nothing about pancake preparation or recipes (but I’m a champion pancake eater). Just be certain that whatever title you use on your book (or article), the contents are tested and true. (You can’t just pull anything out of the air as I have.)
Another logical question: do you risk any copyright infringement problems by using the same title twice for different publications? Hardly. Titles can’t be copyrighted. You can call your book The Holy Bible if you wish. (I wouldn’t because of the confusion and proprietary havoc you’d create.) Anyway, if some other publisher is putting your book out, tell him about the double use and let him sort it out. Most important, right now write a book as irresistible as those pancakes, and worry about a title later. There are probably five equally as strong selling titles. Find one of them later.
(If this information is helpful, I post a couple of times a week. Sign on or come back!)
Why would anybody actually pay for your book, or even read it free, if it doesn’t bring them some benefit or meet their need(s)?
Granted, some folks have to at least look at what you publish, like your mate (if they want to eat), maybe your kids and folks, and anybody else who will fan you in the midday sun.
The rest, the public, just don’t care much that you wrote a book. It’s estimated that from three to fifteen million other books were published in 2012. How concerned are you about what those authors/publishers wrote? And you’re a book author!
The way you get others to care is to solve their problems or bring them benefits on those pages–and tell them you did it and how they can find it.
Like writing a legitimate book telling them how to convert soup spoons into solid gold. If you put that in print and let readers know that it’s available, not only will they care, soup spoons will fly off the shelves nationwide!
You can have thousands of readers, maybe millions, who will eagerly thank you for making their lives better, happier, funnier, more rewarding, easier—but you must write the book that does that first. What can you write about? Almost anything that others will benefit from reading, like a fact-filled, benefit-laden book about effortless exercise or how to write side-splitting treasure hunt clues, repair their ceiling fan, sell their Studebaker, find a “keeper” mate, or overcome loneliness. And those gilded soup spoons.
Thus, part of your purpose statement is to identify (and define) the benefits your book will bring to the reader, or the needs you will help them satisfy.
Is this important? Just if you want to separate potential readers from their closely guarded money and their even more jealously defended reading time! That is, if you want to sell some of those books you write and publish.
Start by writing intriguing descriptions for your book publishing submissions to the “open” publishers like CreateSpace, Kindle, Nook, iPad, Smashwords, Scribd, Lulu, Blurb, and others. (I tell you how to do that, and get them in print free, in How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days) Then build your social networking sales campaign from that “I have to buy this book right now!” description.
Surviving Prostate Cancer: A survivor’s mostly funny diary, 21.6 PSA to 1.4 and dropping…
Welcome! This is a humorous yet no-nonsense account of the near-year that the author spent surviving a successful treatment for prostate cancer. And yes, that author is me and this is my blog, otherwise 99% dedicated to publishing, book writing, empire building, and related, non-medical interests. As virtuous as that sounds I still snagged this cancer.
I wasn’t totally surprised. My prostate had been big enough to saddle at least since I was 25. I was a college dean and I mysteriously hurt all over. That’s when a G.P. (who thought I had the flu) nonetheless kept poking around, suggesting my trousers were too high, and bent me over his peeking bench. I heard a disconcerting “wow!” followed by “I don’t need my gloves. The damn thing is already looking out!” That from a grim-faced sawbones who looked like he restricted his joy to a smile a year. He introduced me to my prostate.
I found out that being big didn’t mean being bad. My PSA obediently hovered at 5 or 6. Then, about 50 years later, it shot up to 21.6. So I was introduced to my first urologist, he in turn brought the art of biopsy into my life, and a new adventure began. I still have my not-so-monster prostate (we chose a TURP instead) but my PSA now is between 1.5 and 2 and still dropping. (It looks to me like a cure.) In the meantime I did what a hapless writer does when others tamper with his urinary innards. If he’s worth his salt (I still have salt), he grinds through it–and writes.
So this 110-page book (my 44th and, I hope, my last health missive) was written mostly for those lucky guys who were ”chosen” to have a prostate with a mean mind of its own. What does prostate cancer feel like? What runs through your mind—and urethra—while urologists try old and new procedures on you? How do you handle catheter madness and wimpy hormone breasts? The joys of incontinence? Or is this a book for your Dad or your grumpy old uncle? (Incidentally, peeing blood and hot flashes get no sympathy from wives, but still…)
On these pages I tell about the Discovery, Hormone Shots, the TURP, Radiation, Incontinence, No Flow, Another Cut, and Victory (I think).
In fact, why not check out the Table of Contents–gloves not needed?
(1) Discovery—but what’s a prostate?
(2) Damn, what do I do now? (Try two hormone shots and one TURP.)
(3) Radiation: Will I really glow in the dark?
(4) Every day is a fry day
(5) Is the radiation short-circuiting my brain?
(6) This cancer is a real confidence eater
(7) A one-day reprieve
(8) The weekly doctor tell-all
(9) Incontinence? I can’t run fast enough…
(10) Hasta luego, radiator!
(11) No flow!
(12) Even Governor Brown is trying it out
(13) Another cut
(14) Happy 2013—I can pee again!
(16) Victory (I think).
It’s my off-beat view of being a patient, one who peed invisibly almost any place any time until nature, my urologist, and some magic pills mercifully intervened. The book is also written for my colleagues, now and later, who have an extraordinary prostate. Alas, cancer-tinged prostates seem to be as common as ants. In fact, it’s man’s second most prevalent disease! (The book is also written for their spouses, kids, parents, and jealous friends. In other words, for almost everybody.)
I had most of the usual treatments, told the usual lies, and too often slept next to the washroom (sometimes waking up in it), yet I also kept my publishing business alive, wrote articles and books, chased my fleeing “don’t-touch-me” buddies and grandkids, and kept speaking in public about other things.
Take a read so that if you too live (and don’t die) by the PSA you’ll know what’s up, what sounds awful but isn’t, what nobody mentions but actually is kind of awful, and a nifty, little-known regimen to use when you must urinate for weeks through a hole smaller than a pin prick.
No tongue-twisting technical terms either. If I can walk (sort of quickly) across hot, malignant coals and still have cold feet, you can too. Here’s the inside stuff. Cheap too; about $5 digitally, $10 in paperback. Maybe a dime a laugh, unless you’re like that GP.
We sell the paperback and .pdf ebook versions. You can also buy the paperback from CreateSpace (Amazon) and the ebook version for readers and tablets, etc. from Kindle (Amazon), Nook (Barnes & Noble), Smashwords, iPad, and Scribd. All prices for the respective paperback and ebook vendors are about the same.
Communication Unlimited, P.O. Box 845, Novato, CA 94948 / www.gordonburgett.com.
Our goal in this series is to help you compose a book and get it published in both paperback and ebook (digital) form in a bit over a week.
If the book is ready to go—final proofing is done and corrected, the Word layout has been modified from its paperback and pdf format into the needed running-text structure, and the cover file is finished (see #8), this final step should take only an hour or two. Even better, the book (after you approve it, which can be in minutes after it appears on the Kindle reader) will appear in final form and be buyable without delay at Amazon and Kindle websites.
Lest I forget, should you find errors later, you can simply reopen the text content (in the final xxx.doc file you submitted), make the changes, resubmit it, and give it a quick read-through on the previewer. When it’s properly corrected, you have an even better book to sell!
So here we go! Type in https://kdp.amazon.com. (Note the “s” in https.) Either set up a new file at Amazon.com or check in, and your book editing file will appear. (If you have other books there, go to NEW BOOK.)
You will see two parts of a continual file you must complete before you are published—gloating permitted! The first part is six items long, then you preview your file. The second part is where mostly the price is entered.
Let’s get going. Kindle gives you a rather quixotic opportunity even before you post your book! It asks if you want to include your book in KDP Select? Read the explanation, but probably pass up this sign-up chance, at least at the outset (if ever).
Then #1, your book’s name. The title is very important. People buy all books by their title and paper, and hardbacks, particularly, also by their cover. So the title must tell what the book is about. If possible, some of the benefits the buyer will receive should be included. A very short title is risky, although one of my earlier books was simply called Speaking for Money. On the other hand, my most recent book is a mouthful: How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days: A step-by-step guide for new or veteran publishers. Notice that longer titles are almost always double deckers, with the grabber first and the explanation next.
Following that, the form will ask if your book is part of a series (unlikely); if so, the volume # (empty); the edition # (blank), and the publisher. If you are publishing the book but you have no company name, leave it blank—but get a company name. (Avoid using your name, a geographic name, or the word “enterprises.”)
The description follows, in 4,000 words max. This is almost as important as the title of your ebook because here you sell the book’s purpose and structure and why the reader should immediately push the BUY button. Pay attention to how well the description is written, how it sells the benefits first, then explains them in greater depth, lightly introduces you (and why you wrote it), then what the table of contents include. If it’s full of errors (or has any), caution flags will rise: poor proofing, can’t spell or punctuate, not full attention to the contents. So write this description five or ten times, editing, changing, and so on in another folder, then copy and paste it ready-to-go here. (Keep that other file since you need descriptions with every book submission.) You want good examples? See the other books Kindle is selling and read their descriptions!
Book contributors follows. Here you enter your name as the author. We found that if we also enter the cover designer, an editor, and a family booster and give them titles, all of them are also included as authors! So just acknowledge them in the book itself.
In what language the book is written. (English or whatever..)
Publication date? It can’t be after today (the date Kindle will probably use if you leave the box blank).
ISBN? You don’t need one; Kindle will put one of theirs on the book. Too long to discuss here. If it’s a quick book with limited draw, we sometimes use theirs. But since we usually post our books eight times (in paperback, an ebook in pdf, and six other “open” publishers within a few days of each other), we use two of our ISBNs that we bought (at embarrassing overpriced rates from Bowker), one for bound versions, one for digital versions. We include the digital ISBN here. (By using our own, it tells all buyers that we are the publishers of all of the versions of this book.) Yes, simultaneous publishing is fine.
The second question asks if the book is public domain. Check no.
The next two merit some thinking and picking, and they are a bit confusing the way you select your choices. Just stick with it. For categories, think of where a library would stack your book. Next, the seven key words it asks you to provide are used on search engines, like Google. What descriptive or content-based word would a person use that would make your book pop up on their monitor? See the examples on the form. Use all seven opportunities to list.
Number four is critical if you want others to believe your book is professional. You need a front cover, submitted in .jpg (or .jpeg). Kindle explains exactly what it wants in the “Cover Guidelines” link on the submission page, so either follow their advice or have it done for you. Put a border around the cover and be sure the title can be read in thumbnail size. Bright colors also help, Pay attention to the number of pixels required. Submit the cover file there.
Number five is what this form is all about: this is when your book content file is submitted. Most submit it in .doc. They will not accept .pdf. (Also ask them not to enable digital rights management.)
Once that entire first part of the submission is completed, you can tell it to Save and Continue (to the second part of the submission) or to save it as a draft. IMPORTANT: any time you start this form, if you don’t save it after #6 it will be erased! So always save it.
After the info is submitted, the Kindle .mobi grinder will set your book as it will appear in print! Read it in the preview file to see if it’s ready to go or if it needs touching up. If the latter, go back to the book file and iron out any errors, omissions, typos, and faulty spacing.
You’re almost there! If you haven’t noticed, it’s free to get them to post your book in final printable form and sell it for you to anybody who contacts them and pays.
In the second section, rights, money, and lending are the issues.
Number seven asks you to verify your publishing territories. Just check worldwide rights.
Number eight lets you choose your royalties—sort of. First you must insert what you want your book to cost in the box next to Amazon.com. If it’s between $2.99 and $9.99, you can earn 70% of the sale in all areas except India, Brazil, and Japan. (In the three you will earn 35%.) If your book costs $10 or more, you earn 35% everywhere. Enter 35% or 70% in item 8.
Also enter the price in the first two boxes, then check all of the remaining boxes—and they will calculate the amount you will earn in dollars (but calculated there in euros and other currencies).
Number nine is up to you: lending choice. You can leave the wee box empty.
The last step is to check the last box [ ] on the page: Click Save and Publish.
Whew! It took some doing (Items 1-8) but as you complete #9, your book is a real thing, looks good, and can be bought by friends, family, and the rest of the world.
Here are seven very important things to do before you write (and publish) your own book.
(1) Find and read all five of these books that are very similar to yours. In fact, read each book twice. (If you can’t read, don’t write a book. If you can, do.) Get reading now and write your own book simultaneously. (This isn’t a free pass to stop writing while you curl up at the town library!)
(2) I know, your book is unique, singular, unmatched…so why are you reading somebody else’s book(s)? So you don’t reinvent the literary wheel. And so you have successful, published models to show you structure, format, plot, purpose, flow, scope, and dialog that works.
(3) You’re going to read those books like yours because you’re going to steal anything of applicable worth from them. They are your opposition, your worth balance, the standard that others will hold you to. You’re not going to just mimic and replicate them, you’re going to learn how another writer found a plot, created characters, gave them words, moved them around, and built from the very same words we all use to tell our story. You’re not stealing the words, they’re already yours to use. You’re stealing a short walk, polished and proofed, in another writer’s mind. Don’t worry, if they have any sense those writers did the very same thing too.
(4) Put the book most like yours on top and start there. The first time through you are going to see what working question that book answers. It will almost always be stated in the book’s introduction or first chapter. Then clarify how the table of contents (or a plot sheet you will put together as you read) define and lead you down that book’s path. Write down everything that you wish was on your pages. Why is it there? What does it do? How long are the sentences, the chapters, the sections? Summarize all of the stories the book tells, prioritize them. How are characters successively referred to (Dr. Tom Jones, Dr. Jones, Jones, Tom, etc.)?
(5) the second time you read it, read from start to finish, to feel the style of writing, the flow, the amount and kind of humor, who is speaking, how does the story move forward—anything that will enrich your sense of how this kind of book is skillfully composed.
(6) Continue with the other books, in order. What are you doing with all of this accumulated wisdom? You’re writing down anything that will work for you. Scan or copy long passages or short phrases; snag anything extraordinary that works.
(7) Finish that first draft you have been prepping while you were reading. Then go back, rethink your book, tighten its structure, give your key characters more presence, make the prose sing. You’ll probably rewrite the book around the skeleton of your initial text.
By the time you have read five (or three or eight) books like yours and put your starter words on paper, you will know what you must do in the second pass to write a book that will shout to be printed. Soon a thousand new fans will tell their friends that there is this new “great read” they must buy.
And best wishes,
Once you have completed your book and had it proofed, you can go ahead and offer your book for sale as a digital book. You needn’t wait for the bound copy to be printed or even sent to the printer. You will be doing the latter while you set up the digital versions and get them out to your panting public!
There are two ways to do this: (1) you can save the bound copy just as it is in .pdf, then make that saved copy your in-house ebook to sell to buyers as an attachment to an email you send that buyer to confirm the sale. The buyer can simply download the book and read or use it. Selling the .pdf ebook version is a particularly good choice if your bound book has lots of artwork (photos, charts, graphs, etc.) in it since you will probably eliminate all or most of that artwork in (2), to follow. The only drawback to the .pdf version is that it can’t be read on any of the readers, like Kindle or Nook.
Let me say it again: your book exists the moment the final draft files are proofed and ready to transfer. It needn’t be printed in bound form nor must it formally be saved in special ebook format, as we will explain in a moment. Which means that your nose will not grow if you now call yourself a published author. Congratulations!
The second kind of ebook (2) you will submit directly to the open publishers, like Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, LightningSource, Lulu, and Scribd. There, the buyer can read your book on their respective reader. That, in turn, requires you to make some modest modifications in a copy of your final bound file so the ebook digital versions sold by the open publishers will read better and be more useful in the software languages where they will go, like Mobi and ePub.
(I’m rewriting and slightly updating much of this blog from my book How to Get Your Book Printed Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days, so to see how the ebook process fits into the overall book prep, those pages will be very helpful.) Here are the steps I recommend to convert your bound book manuscript into an ebook format:
* Digital book copies mess up the pagination because the front cover (you don’t include the back cover or spine) becomes the first page. Also, you will eliminate any blank pages, so the numbers become a hodgepodge by the end of the book.
* Therefore, you remove all page numbers in the table of contents, the header or footer, and the index.
* In the index you add this comment under the title “Index”: “Please use the find key to locate the specific reference pages.” Then you delete the numbers but leave in the index words in alphabetical order so the reader knows what you found worthy of special inclusion.
* Since it doesn’t matter how many pages the digital version has, this is an opportunity to increase the text font size without financial consequences. So why not make it 12-point type, probably in the same serif type you used in the bound version? (Don’t use any size larger than 14 or it will take many more pages to print.) Remember, when you increase the font size that will alter your earlier page layouts—that will likely require you to insert and delete some earlier page breaks.
* The same logic regarding color. It matters little whether the text is black on white or pink on red—I’m joking. You can use any color combinations you wish in the ebook, including photos and images. The drawback with color? If the user is planning to print out some or all of the ebook text, he or she may not want to use color ink—and may not know that he or she can go to “Properties” before actually printing and tell it to use only black and white. (We use color sparingly in our ebooks for that reason.)
* Probably the greatest advantage to digital copies is that links can actually be inserted and activated. For example, if I wanted to send you to my webpage in the bound version I would direct you to www.gordonburgett.com. But in the ebook copy I would probably highlight the words Web site, go to Insert/Hyperlink/ and type in “www.gordonburgett.com” where it says address. That way you could simply activate the highlighted (or underlined) word in the ebook and my Web site would open up. Don’t forget, though, if the links are now suddenly alive, you should change the typed out addresses to links, then test each to make sure you got it right and it’s still active.
* In Word, the style program is baffling so it’s best to cruise through the text pages and be sure that it says “Normal” in the top bar before the font and size boxes as often as possible. Don’t ask why but that seems to eliminate most of the cases where regular type inexplicably appears twice (or half) as large, in italics, or in bold!
* Sometimes to read your book well digitally you must modify or eliminate your header and/or footer in your ebook.
* We also make our chapter and section heads smaller and uniform throughout our ebooks, so reading the book on a reading device is faster and smoother.
* And, because we aren’t techies and we don’t use much artwork in our books anyway, here we eliminate all artwork—like images, photos, charts, and graphs. Why? Because it simply won’t stay where you want it, look right, or somehow not mess up your text presentation.
This is the time you go to the respective open publisher websites, tell them you want to make a book, and follow point-by-point their directions for completing the submission. Remember, for ebooks you only need the front cover of the book, so that should be saved in a file for submission too. (Here, again, the book mentioned will decipher the harder-to-grasp instructions for all of the submissions processes of the open publishers’ inclusion directions.)
Fill in all of the lines and boxes, insert the content file and cover final, and tell the respective website that you want to see how your book will look when it is posted by that publisher. Don’t panic if there are ugly errors in the reader. Anything can be modified. Keep a page-by-page notation of anything that looks askance, then go back to your original digital file. If you omitted, double-entered, used tab keys (don’t) in spacing the original text, whatever, correct every defect on your Word dig file, and send the corrected file in again. (They don’t care how many times you enter it.)
After you’ve made every change you see, go back and read the whole book, at least on the monitor, to see that the layout and contents are exactly as you’d like the digital readers to see them on their computers, on readers, or on some hand-held devices.
When all of the changes, eliminations, and modifications above are made, save this file and add dig to the file body so you will know this file is for open publishing ebooks. So if the book is about bees, the body of your file name might now be beesdig. And if, rarely, somebody wants the modified ebook file in .pdf, after all the changes are made, save it in .pdf and call that body name beesdig.pdf.
The real question is, what do you do if you have to delete artwork that contains valuable information the reader should know? One, you can rewrite the specific section in your ebook digital file so the gist of the artwork is explained in printed text. Two, you can simply say nothing at all. Or, three, you say that there was artwork in the bound book version of this text, then send the reader by link(s) to a page (or pages) on your website where the artwork does appear as it was included in the original book.
That’s it. Step #8 of our book prep in 10 giant steps. See you next week with #9.
Your book only needs three kinds of covers, but they can all be designed from the same model.
1. Your bound books will require a full cover, meaning a front, a spine, and a back. (In the rare case you produce a cloth-covered book–a hardcover book–the needs are the same except that you might also use a dustcover, an extra paper cover, that may also have end flaps on the front and back covers. If so, you need additional text and perhaps more artwork for the flaps. Sometimes all of the artwork will appear on the dustcover and the book’s hard covers will be plain, although the hard cover spine might have the book title and the author’s name on it.)
2. If your paperback is too thin for a spine to be used, your cover will then have just a front and back, without a specific spine. Spines are used if the book contains 110 pages or more. Libraries rarely stock spineless books. (Consider using case studies to add in enough pages to reach the minimum girth.)
3. An ebook has a front cover only. It makes much marketing sense to use the same front cover on all issues of the same book, same edition. Having said that, ebook covers are usually seen in catalog thumbnails. That might require some text modification because the cover will be so small. If some of the cover text is too small to be read in the thumbnail version, that unreadable text might be eliminated altogether. Conversely, the title, author’s name, and artwork might be larger so they can be seen better. The important thing, if possible, is to use the same colors so the ebook will be identifiable as the same book in cloth or paperback. thus the cover artist must plan in reverse, using colors and contrasts that can be read in both regular and thumbnail sizes.
In open publishing, there are two ways to get a cover.
(1) In the first way, probably free, you design your bound book covers at Lulu, Blurb, and CreateSpace. If you have specific artwork in mind, plus a set text composition for the back, you can probably use it on any or all of these three. But each of these covers will be distinct. They might look alike, but they will only work for what you create on that particular site. That’s because covers created on the publisher’s software belong to that publisher. And there are limitations on what you can design. (The instructions aren’t that easy to follow either.)
These bound book covers will also have specific and different bar codes with ISBN-like numbers on the back that can be used only for that publisher’s version.
So if you create your covers this way, you will need to create another cover for the other ebook versions that the other open publishers will produce and sell for you. Of course you can closely imitate the others and you can use the same title, sub-title, and artwork you used before.
As I said earlier, make your title and sub-title larger and bolder, even at some sacrifice of beauty. That’s because ebooks aren’t bought by their covers. In thumbnails in catalogs all you need is for the title(s) to be pleasantly balanced and clearly readable.
(2) I have a strong bias here. I suggest the second approach where covers (and their ISBN number) are concerned. (But if your book is going to be published solely by one open publisher, forget this bias and just create your cover on their software.)
The bias says that any book good enough to be widely published by the open publishers should also be a core product of your own (perhaps new) self-publishing company, and for that you want the very same cover and ISBN number on all bound book copies, yours and the open publishers’.
Alas, that costs money: $27.50 for each ISBN number (available in lots of 10 for $275) and from $150-500 to get a solid, professional cover in the three formats that I describe above: a full cover, one without a spine, and an e-book front cover. That cover artwork should be provided in both .jpeg and .pdf formats, plus the cover files should also be usable for fliers, business cards, and in other promotional ways.
Then you simply submit your own cover with your ISBN in your bar code to each of the open publishers to use in their production and sale. That’s precisely what I do every time and it has worked fine with every publishing house. That way I could also release the same book simultaneously for my own in-house and commercial sales. The most important thing, all of the books look the same and all are tied together with my ISBN.
Unless you are gifted in book cover design (which means that others would pay you to design for them), I suggest that you either use the templates at Lulu, CreateSpace, or Blurb or hire a cover done by a professional.
It’s said that people buy books by the cover. That may be a bit less so with the Web, but it’s still a huge factor in their choice. So don’t make your cover look like you did it with a ball point pen in 40 minutes.
A friend once told my seminar audience of book publishers that if they would have their gravestone chiseled with a sledgehammer and a nut picker, then they should design their own book covers!
The purpose of this 10-unit series of blogs is to answer the working question, “How can I publish a just-finished book six times, all within a couple of weeks?” This unit will discuss publishing your book as a paperback, with the publishing part nearly free.
In earlier blogs we read of getting the book in final proofed form in Word, getting a professional-looking two-sided cover for the book, converting your Word book interior into .pdf (with another quick proof to be sure the pages are as you want them), creating the submission info needed by the open publishers (two descriptions, a bio, and calculating a book price), and creating a landing page (or a squeeze page) to tell buyers summarily what the book is about and where it can be ordered.
You can find those earlier blogs right at this blog site by inserting the respective blog number in the search box, like #3, #4, etc.
Now, in #7, we want to get the paperback book in motion so we can have it printed and buyable worldwide in about 10 days.
Go to www.createspace.com, and open an account if you don’t already have one. Then tell the site that you want to publish a book. (It will be in paperback; that’s all they publish.) I won’t walk you through the submission steps here—how you will submit your book’s ready-to-go interior and its cover. You can see it at the website, or you can get more details in my How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days book, a ganga at $10-15.
Do as the instructions say. They will ask your book’s title. That’s extremely important and not easily changeable later. Make sure it tells the buyer what the book is about (and what benefits it will bring them). You can add a subtitle too. Keep all of that precise and clear.
The most important item, other than the title and the book itself (with cover), is the description you provide. That’s what tells the potential buyer what the book says and does, the style of writing, how it is organized, and something about your writing skills. Spend lots of time on this; editing and rewriting are encouraged. I like to include the Table of Contents near the end of the description, and if I have a couple of very short and very positive reviews, I try to work them into the text as well. (You shouldn’t just make up the testimonials, and claiming they came from Plato or Ulysses Grant might be suspect too.)
They also want a bio from you so the buyer has some idea of why you wrote the book, what you know about the topic, and what other accomplishments you have achieved. Don’t worry if you haven’t received a Pulitzer or Oscar yet, just list your belt notches, putting those most related to your book first. You can include your hobbies and other things you do too, so you appear human. Just don’t lie; you mother and Sunday school teacher will read it. If the bio is short, so what?
There are other details they need to sell your book that you must provide: the price, its length, if you are providing your own ISBN, keywords that one might use at Google to find your topic, and others.
Soon enough they will ask for your cover file, in .jpg, and your interior or content file, in .pdf. Browse to find them on your computer, insert them, and cross your fingers that both are accepted as they are. (If not, don’t panic. Just make the changes they require. You can even telephone them as a last resort if you are confused: they are friendly and helpful.) If they are accepted, look closely at the interior file to see if it’s like you want it. (It should be since you locked the contents in place when you used .pdf.) But if it’s not or you see five semicolons in the first sentence (a couple a book is enough), go back to the Word file, make changes there, change it to .pdf again, and resubmit it. I suppose you could do that 500 times (again, a couple of times should be more than enough). Just don’t say it’s OK until it is. It’s best to have them mail you a copy of the final proof so you can hold the book in your hand to scope it out one last time. Scope the cover too. Mailing the proof only costs about $10 and it arrives in a couple of days.
At some point you tell them to publish it. Having a bound book in print is a huge leap forward. Best yet,anybody can buy it and have it delivered in a few days anywhere in the world. You can buy it too if you want a few copies to carelessly scatter around your apartment in all of the places guests might sit or go.
That’s it. It’s embarrassingly easy, particularly if you fought in the publishing wars of just a few years back when you either self-published and bought 500 or so copies or you charmed some major house into putting your brilliance in print.
There’s another quick comment I should make. You can also send that cover and interior to Lightning Source and they will produce print-on-demand copies too. They charge about $105 total, and if you get a stock of your books to sell commercially (or perhaps back-of-the-room at your presentations) you may well buy them in small lots there. The book box(es) will be delivered in about five days. Who does that? Commercial self-publishers if they haven’t nailed down a niche buying cadre. They will order 50 or 300 books to see how well it sells, then they will order in lots of 1,000 plus from small-run printers, to meet their regular customer needs. You can have your book at CreateSpace and get copies from Lightning Source at the same time, but if you are going to sell the book widely in paperback it’s prudent to get your own ISBN number and use that same number in all bound versions everywhere.
A bound book is the real thing. Get it out so you can focus on ebooks in the meantime. More about that in #8.
Take an hour, for starters. Go some place where you won’t be disturbed and write down your book’s purpose statement. It may be easier to start with a working question, like “What will your book be about?” The answer is the “purpose statement.” Your book will help realize that purpose.
The statement might be: “The purpose of this book is to explain how one can build their own empire by writing and speaking.” (I actually did use this starter question many years ago, for the book Empire-Building by Writing and Speaking. (it’s been out of print for many years.)
Explaining “how one can…” defines the book’s contents and reason for being.
That will help you weed out related but non-tangential facts and “stuff” that won’t appear in the book. It gives you a selection tool to determine what you will include on the book’s pages. It also tells you who should be interviewed (or quoted), the kinds of artwork (charts, graphs, tables) you might seek or create, and the key examples you will build from.
On the same working pad, write down anything you or the readers might expect to see addressed or explained, terms defined, processes to be used, or anything else. Volume helps! Don’t worry about the order or where you’ll find the information. Just write, list, envision what others would want to read and know, ask questions, draw arrows if related topics pop out from earlier ideas, make boxes, list follow-up books you might write later…
If you have already researched the theme, include what the authors wrote about and the structure or organization they used. If there are five books, pluck from all five! List all of the names of experts in your chosen field, or related fields, and note where they are and how you could contact them, if needed.
If nothing appears in print to draw from, all the better! You will be the pioneer, the expert others will be quoting and the speaker they will be hearing. Which makes it all the more important that your book provides a logical, comprehensive starting point from which you and others can build from in the future.
In lieu of any core publication at the present, perhaps a “state of the art” book might provide a solid foundation for your own empire: where your idea or concept is right now, others’ thinking on the subject, the most relevant tools the readers might draw from, how what is known about the subject might be organized or reorganized, where you might expect the answers or results to go, and how the field could be constructed (probably using writing and speaking).
Rare indeed is a new book that doesn’t build from other thinkers, writers, or speakers in its core field. Weave them into the fabric of your book’s organization. Plan to read everything about your topic, then to interview those whose work or ideas significantly add to your own–or oppose them, telling why.
Keep those starter pages nearby as you write the book, and continue to add to them. Often book #2 or even your third book will emerge from those beginning questions you ask.
One last helper tool, the questions that all of us raised in journalism first ask: who, what, why, where, and how. Ask those of your core subject from the outset to give your content gathering a good toehold.
I discuss the book writing procedure in the first half of How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days, if interested. Keep your eye on this blog too: I’m in the middle (#6 of 10) of a series of book-writing and -publishing steps to get you quickly in print and widely sold.