Keep your book title to yourself–at first!

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The danger of broadcasting your book title too early is that others may write and publish it before you do!

“No way,” you say. “They’d have to do the research, get the interviews, write the draft, get it proofed, and have it printed in just a couple of months–or at least before I go to press.”

That’s the very issue. Unless you are weeks from the book’s release (or even a month or two so you can get some pre-print testimonials for the book and its cover), there are plenty of wordsmiths out there who can wrap almost any book up in a couple of weeks, particularly if you give them the words and details. In the interim, before they get a paperback out, they can publish the book digitally almost as fast as they can submit its copy and cover to Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other ancillary publishers. (Sorry, but I tell them precisely how in How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.) Even worse, they can just announce their coming book right now, using the very same title, subtitle, and benefits and promises you plan to use, to the very audience to whom you plan to sell.

Where did they get that title, subtitle, and your selling copy? You told them! None of that is legally protected, right now or even after your book appears. (You can’t copyright titles. Want to write The Holy Bible again, with a different cast? You can, though some may catch on.)

Incidentally, you also gave them your outline (the table of contents) and the artwork you have in mind, even some expert interview material. How can they find out what you think about the topic? Do you have much of the book already shared in blogs, a newsletter, articles, and related writings or books? All there to be directly quoted even though they never say a word to you. All that idea sharing is fair game to build on and quote from.

This is particularly the case in niche publishing, and doubly the case where you want to create an empire to build from where your new book is the core publication, or at least a key publication in your offerings.

It’s a delicate balance, when you tell what’s in prep and how much you reveal.

One way to get your research material without having to spill many of the beans is to write several different articles that you can later pull into the book. Some of these you may have queried about and thus you have a clear purpose and a printed destination to tell those you wish to quote. Others may be “future pieces” you are putting into query form.

The time you must expose the guts of the book is when you create a pretest for a segment of your niche or expected buyers. You need a flyer that likely includes the title, subtitle, contents, author bio, and many of the benefits (or reasons the person may buy that book). You are vulnerable here because you will probably wait to see the pretest responses (again, title, price, contents, and format) before you put the final book together. About the only thing you can do is not include the honchos in the field or the related association(s), other niche authors, and staff of the related publications in the pretest.

Let me give you an example. When we were creating the first standad operating procedures (SOPs) books for dentists, a few years ago, we took huge steps not to share the good tidings before we sent the first sales flyer to all of the dentists or specialists. We did conduct a pretest but it was small and to a Nth selection of the full dental mailing list. We wanted 99% of the dentists to first see the book in final, ready-to-buy and -use form so that if any other writers/publishers then popped up with a similar item, it was clearly a copy-cat version. It worked: for years nobody produced anything similar for dentists. And from that core topic we developed an empire, with related books, digital renditions, audio cassette programs, a video, and lots of consulting and convention speaking.

That’s it. The more explicit you are about a book in the hopper, the greater danger you subject your project to. Is the scenario painted above very likely? Not really, but that one in a hundred occurrence could cost you dearly in lost sales or a lost empire. At the very least, it would ruin my day–and month.

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