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June 2010

Exploring POD

More and more articles and posts are being written about print-on-demand printing or what's referred to as POD. So what it true print-on-demand printing? Simply put, it means that books are first sold, then using digital printing, one or more copies are created to fill the order.

Although soft cover books are more common with POD, a number of companies can also produce hard cover or case-bound books, including dust jackets, as well. Once produced, the books are shipped direct from the POD printer to the customer (usually the author or someone he or she designates).

There are several advantages to using print-on-demand technology. Among them:

  1. You do not need a warehouse (not even a garage) because there is no book inventory to store or maintain.
  2. You have publishing flexibility. Suppose you decide you would like to change your cover sub-title, adjust colors, or rewrite a portion of text. With POD you can simply make your changes on your next production run.
  3. There is also the element of speed. If you're dealing with a timely topic that requires  a tight deadline, POD can create your books quickly. Some POD printers can turnaround a soft cover book within 5 working days - and hard cover books can be produced within 10.

There are also some interesting trends developing with print-on-demand book publishing. A number of POD printers are connecting with retail chains such as Barnes & Noble and Borders, making POD books more readily available in brick-and-mortar bookstores. The prediction is that this trend will continue to evolve.

Also, some book printers who used to specialize in larger print runs are now doing short-run POD - either exclusively or in tandem with their previous work.

There are many POD printers to choose from. For example, Book1One can produce as few as one copy (even hard cover) or hundreds, depending upon the author's marketing strategy and requirements.

What will it cost you to ride the crest of this new wave? Prices can vary from book producer to book producer and usually will be based on a number of factors including type of book cover, page size dimension, number of black/white and color pages, and quantity to be produced. It's important to obtain quotes so you can compare costs, terms and production turnaround times. And ask where the normal price breaks fall.

[This post was created from excerpts from the new 5th edition of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.]


The Changing World of Book Publishing - Something Writers Should Know

Today, there are more books, published in more ways and available to wider audiences than ever before. For many readers, the printed-paper book is a convenient way for them to be entertained (fiction book) or informed (non-fiction book). For others, the audio book works well. And for still others, electronic books may be the preferable choice.

Howwever, before you begin printing your book, it's important that you understand one important factor: book production and book selling are changing. And to be successful, authors and publishers must recognize and adapt to these changes.

Historically, books have been printed in large quantities and sold through bookstores "on spec." In other words, old fashioned publishers have tried to "push" books into the market, rather than let public demand "pull" them into stores. Books that did not sell were returned to the publishers and basically scrapped. Some of the larger publishers would often get 25% to 35% of their books back. This practice is very expensive and has to be calculated into the cost of the books. This practice is also environmentally very wasteful as well.

Today and as we go forward into the future, the best book publishing strategy will be to print a modest initial print run of books to address early sales demand and to cover promotional (i.e. review copies) book requirements. Then as readers become aware of the book, print additional copies on a print-on-demand (POD) basis. The initial print runs are used to "prime the pump." If sales increase to a amount that justifies larger quantity print runs, book production can switch over to quantity printing using digital or offset methods.

Today's book publishing model makes very good sense, and is something you should strongly consider before you go to press.

[This post was created from excerpts from The Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2, written by Dan Poynter.]


Writing a Successful Nonfiction Book - Five Rules to Live By

Unless you are a celebrity, no one can predict whether your first book will be a writing and marketing success. However, if you are planning to write a nonfiction book, here are five rules that will improve your chances significantly.  

1. Make sure you have readers.

Before you even start writing, consider who will buy and read your book and what you plan to give them. Ask yourself this question: if you build it, will they come? A non-fiction book must contain information people want to know. Markus Allen, The Direct Mail Guru, tells his followers that:

"All writing should be to a specifically targeted group. Learn how the group feels, acts and what your audience likes and dislikes. Then, craft your writing in style and content specifically to your readership."

2. Write your very best.

You are a professional. Your buyers and readers will be paying good money, and they will be expecting good work. It is poor reasoning to want to save your best book writing for a future work. Each of your readers deserves your very best. Remember, good work keeps readers coming back.

3. Check your facts.

Successful nonfiction writers have long realized that they have a responsibility to their readers, to their own credibility and to history, to check all the facts they present in their books. The challenge is greater today due to the rapid growth in our knowledge base, the on-going changes in our technology and our increasing ability to access information. So, be sure to check all your facts. When writing nonfiction, your are committing history. 

4. Make your writing compelling.

The written word can and should be powerful. A successful nonfiction book should not only inform, it should move readers to action. Realize that too much writing may explain how to do something, but not motivate the reader to do it.

5. Make your book worth the money.

Believe it or not, size does matter. If you book is under 100 pages, it may not command the price you must get for your work. At the same time, however, do not pad your work with unnecessary extra writing.

There are great and valuable ways to add length to your book - things like adding resources to an Appendix. Your book can become a valuable reference. Other ways to lengthen your book, while making it more valuable and interesting, is to add quotations, stories and illustrations, and providing summaries at the end of each chapter.

Five rules to live by - if you want your nonfiction book to be successful. As you contemplate your book and plan your book project, think about them and make them part of your book writing action plan.

[This post was created from excerpts from Successful Nonfiction, authored by Dan Poynter.]


A Basic Rule for Successful Book Writing - Get Outside Help

If you want your book to be successful, here is a great rule to follow: Do not try to do it all by yourself. Savy authors get outside help and so should you. Hire professionals when you need them and develop a support team that can make your book the best it can be. Specifically:

1. Get editiorial and design help.

Book editors and other book professionals are definitely a good investment. They can contribute their years of experience and expertise to your project. They can save you from mistakes and help you polish your work. In short, they are worth their weight in gold. For more information about the types of editors that are available, read Cheryl Ann Gardner's in-depth article.

2. Hire a proofreader.

Kim Staflund has written an excellent article that includes a nine point checklist most professional proofreaders adhere to. The best advice is, do not try to proof read your own work. You are too close to your manuscript and are sure to miss some typographical errors among other things. You need a professional with "fresh eyes" to proofread your work. Your computer's spelling and grammar checkers are good for a first pass, but never rely on them exclusively. And remember, there is more to proofreading than just punctuation and spelling. Having your manuscript proofread more than once can be a wise decision.

3. Solicit peer reviews.

When their manuscripts are nearly complete, smart writers look for peer reveiwers, at least four experts, each to review a chapter. Some experts might agree to receiving two or three chapters but, if you want to get a timely response, most should get only one. What you get back from these reviewers will be extremely valuable. For example, they may suggest adding more items to a list you have created. They may suggest deleting or changing sections where a practice has changed. They may occasionally identify a comment that may be inaccurate. In short, their opinions will help you mold and "fine tune" your book.

Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One-Minute Manager Library, once said, "I don't write books, my friends write them for me." What he was actually describing was peer review.

When your book is finally published, if you have used outside professional help, chances are you will receive far less adverse reader reaction because your book will have been bulletproofed - at least to the best of your ability.

[This post was created from excerpts from Successful Non-Fiction, authored by Dan Poynter.]


The Rewards of Do-It-Yourself Publishing

In an April 2010 report, R. R. Bowker stated that from over 1 million titles produced in 2009, almost 75% (764,000) fell outside of their "traditional publishing and classification definitions," representing a 181% increase over 2008. A major piece of the non-traditional publishing is self-publishing.

Self-publishing or do-it-yourself publishing has indeed arrived, and the rewards can be great.

  • First of all, self-publishing offers the potential for larger profits. No longer do authors have to be satisfied with the meager 5 to 15 percent royalty that traditional publishers dole out. For those who use creativity, persistence, and sound business sense, money is there to be made.
  • Self-publishing can be the road to independence. What motivates entrepreneurs to launch their own businesses? Most want to be their own bosses and experience personal freedom.
  • Another advantage is that self-publishers can begin their businesses on a part-time basis while keeping their day jobs. This gives them the opportunities to refine their publishing activities and work out any bugs.
  • Self-publishing gives authors control over their work - they can guide every step of the book creation and publishing process.
  • Privately publishing a book also gives an author the advantage of speed. Big trade houses can take up to a year and a half (or even longer) to get a book out. Self-publishers can do it in a fraction of that time.

And perhaps one of the biggest rewards of all: self-publishing can be the springboard to lucrative contracts with a traditional publisher who would not have previously considered the book. Once the marketability of a book has been proven (through self-publishing), a traditional publisher will be eager to to take it over - and pay a substantial fee to the author.

The rewards, plus the quality of self-publishing, means that the extraordinary growth of non-traditional publishing is likely to continue.

[The above post was created from excerpts from the new 5th edition of "The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing," co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier and scheduled for release in July.]


Book1Blog Welcomes Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier

We are very pleased to announce that Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier have joined Book1Blog as providers of content for future blog posts. Known throughout the industry as knowledge leaders in the self-publishing industry, Marilyn and Sue have just finished writing and will be releasing the fifth edition of their best seller, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, in July. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be publishing posts created from excerpts from this new edition.

Marilyn is the founder and Sue is president of Self-Publishing Resources, a company dedicated to guiding individuals and organizations through the development, marketing and promotional aspects of the self-publishing processes. To learn more about these two book publishing experts, you will find links to their biographies in our upper left sidebar.

We welcome Marilyn and Sue to our team of Dan  Poynter and Danny O. Snow and look forward to sharing their self-publishing knowledge with you. Our first post from their new edition will be published early next week.


Nine Things to Consider When Drafting Your Book's Back Cover

If you are planning to self-publish a book, remember that everyone is going to initially judge your book by it's cover. This is why your book's back cover is so important. Not only does it tell people what your book is about, it tells them why they should buy it. In short, your book's back cover is going to contain your most important sales copy.

One great self-publishing rule is to draft your back cover before you write your book. And when you do, here are nine things you need to consider:

  1. Category: Listing your book's category will ensure your book will be easy to find. Visit some bookstores. Check the shelves where you want your book to be displayed and note the category or categories these books are in. 
  2. Headline: You need an aresting headline aimed at potential buyers - something that they will relate to. Don't just repeat the title (they've already seen your front cover), but use an alternative approach. Look at other books to find some good examples to emmulate.
  3. Sales copy: In two to four sentences state what your book is about, and what your readers will gain by reading your book.
  4. Promises and benefits: Promise to make readers better at what they do. Pledge health, wealth, entertainment or a better life. Most importantly, be specific.
  5. Testimonials and endorsements: Dream up three different endorsements from people you would like to quote - sources that might impress potential buyers. Remember, this is just a draft. You can secure actual testimonials later.
  6. Credibility: Show that you, the author, are the ultimate authority on your subject. Just two or three sentences will do.
  7. The closer: End with a sales closer in bold type. This is a call to action - ask the book-browser to buy your book. Use something like "This book has enabled thousands to..." or "This book will show you the way to..."
  8. Price: Bookstores like a price on the book. However, the price might be a turn-off to potential buyers, so place it at the end of your sales copy. Never locate the price at the top of the back cover.
  9. Bar code: If you are going to sell your book through bookstores and other outlets, you will need a bar code. Since this is just a draft, simply make room for your bar code at the bottom of your back cover. You can obtain your bar code and ISBN later.

Packages sell products, and covers sell books. To give your self-published book the opportunity in the marketplace it deserves, create back cover text that quickly tells the book-browser what's inside.

[The above post was created from excerpts from Everyone Judges a Book by its Cover, an article written by Dan Poynter.]