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November 2011

Questions Authors Never Ask About Book Cover Design But Should

By guest author Karrie Ross.

There are always many questions to address before proceeding down the road of writing a book - questions involving choosing a subject to write about and how you will market your book to the public once it is finished. But when it comes to your book cover, considering what imagery you will choose to represent your concepts is critical to how well it will be received by potential buyers.

It's more than just who will be reading your book, it's is your cover design appropriate for your target reader? To answer that question, here are some questions that many authors fail to ask but should.

  • Who is your audience? More specifically, are they knowledgeable or newbies to the information you plan to present in your book, or do you want to capture both groups ? Will they "get" the image you project on your cover, or will it lead them to ask more questions, cause them to disconnect and possibly move on?
  • What is your content? Is you book's information in the form of stories to inspire, coaching to motivate or business processes to inform? Is your writing literal or subjective? Rational or metaphorical or specific? Will your audience be looking for specific points of reference?
  • How do you plan to use your cover image? Are you looking to only promote your book using online services, or are you planning to have offline offers as well? Will your image be seen as small, large or both? Will it be used in both print and web versions? To be successful, will it need to be quickly identified, understood and emoted?

The answers to these questions can be extremely important when it comes to selecting your cover image and copy. Try to get into the "listening" and "seeing" of your target audience. Once you do, the focus of your book's subject, marketing and cover imagery will follow.

Remember, do something every day toward your book, web-presence, product, service and promotion.

[Among other services she offers, Karrie Ross is nationally recognized for her book cover design expertise she provides authors. She can be contacted at www.BookCoverDesign.com.]

If You Want to Be a Successful Author, Try These Hats On for Size

A truth for most self-publishers is that they will start out alone. That being the case, you will find yourself wearing many hats. But just because you may be an amateur doesn't mean the book you produced will be flawed. As you begin, lets see what these hats might look like.

Writer. The basic foundation for your enterprise is writing. Study your craft and refine your product. Good, readable works sell much more readily than disorganized garble or lofty dissertations.

Editor. If you're not lucky enough to have a qualified friend or relative to edit - one who knows the English language well and will be objective - hire a professional. This is the one area where it is very easy to miss the forest for the trees, overlook the same typo, and lose your objectivity.

Typestter/compositor. When you use a computer to prepare print-ready files, you become a typesetter. Using a desktop publishing software is recommended.

Printer. Avoid copy shops. Make a wise decision between print-on-demand (POD) and traditional printing processes. Educate yourself on printer specs and other requirements.

Financier/accountant. You are the chief accountant, bookkeeper and company representative to your banker. Keep good records for yourself and the IRS.

Marketeer. It doesn't matter how well all the other hats fit if you don't wear this one well. Shrewd promotion and sales strategy will do much to ensure your publishing project's success.

Shipper/warehouser. It doesn't do any good to get book orders unless you can fill and ship them. Although this is a routine job, it takes time, space and energy.

Legal advisor. Many times attorneys collect sizable fees for answering simple business questions, so use common sense when looking at potential legal questions. However, there may be times when you may need an attorney's opinion.

Business manager. You can do a fantastic job on all other aspects of your business and still lose your shirt if this hat isn't secured firmly on your noggin. In fact, a study once conducted by the Small Business Administration showed that 93 percent of the businesses that failed did so because of poor management practices. The key is to establish and adhere to operating procedures designed for your business.

When it comes to becoming a successful author and running a successful business, no one has all the answers. There may be pitfalls, but also many pleasures. Move ahead with passion and conviction, and your chances for success will increase.

 [This post was created from excerpts taken, with permission, from The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition, co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.]

Printed Book Marketing Materials - How They Can Benefit Your Book Promotion

by Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer

Many authors and publishers rely on online book marketing materials like websites, blogs, emails and social media to promote their books. However, don't overlook the benefits of using some printed material as well. Here are a few suggestions:

Bookmarks and Posters - Bookmarks are great for distributing and posters for displaying at book fairs and book signing events, and to bookstores that stock your book. In addition, libraries like to receive and use both for children's books.

Business cards - If you meet people at speaking engagements, networking events, or other venues, you'll need business cards. Two-sided cards cost a little more, but you can showcase your book on one side and your contact information on the other.

Postcards - Postcards are especially effective for announcing the publication of a new book. You can send postcards to friends, family and business contacts, and you may also be able to rent mailing lists for your specific target market.

Postage - Postage can be expensive, so if you're mailing is more tha 200 pieces, you may benefit from using bulk mail rates. Check with a local mailhouse for pricing.

Printed letterhead - Most correspondence is done by email these days, so it's likely that you won't need any printed letterhead. However, you might want to design a letterhead in Word to use for formal correspondence that you send as an email attachment.

Mailing labels and return address labels - If you plan to ship books to customers, you may want to buy or create mailing  and return address labels.

Sell sheets - A sell sheet is a flyer that's used to promote books to libraries and bookstores. It can also be included in press kits (plus distributing it online in PDF format).

If you plan to purchase or create printed material, be sure you have a plan for using each.  Here are some additional tips for producing book marketing materials to promote your book you should consider.

  1. Make sure there's a sales message on your printed materials, not just your book cover and title. And always include your website address.
  2. Brand your printed materials to coordinate with your book cover, website and other marketing items.
  3. Items like bookmarks and postcards are much cheaper per unit when ordered in larger quantities. Think about all the ways you can use these items and consider ordering in quantity.
  4. Compare prices with any printers you may be considering, but don't forget to factor shipping costs.

Printed materials can be very effective in promoting you book, but you'll get the most benefit from you investment when used strategically.

[This post was created from excerpts taken, with permission, from an article written by Dana Lynn Smith. Dana helps authors and publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter and private coaching. She can be contacted at The Savvy Book Marketer.]

Just Starting Your Book Writing Career? Here's the Best Advice to Follow

If you are just beginning your book writing career and are focusing on nonfiction books, following these two rules will carry you a long way.

Rule #1: Write what you know.

When it comes to writing successful nonfiction, expertise and experience counts. You must have both to be a credible nonfiction author. Expertise means you may have an advanced degree in a particular field. Experience means you have lived it. However, you do not need a Ph.D. if you have a wealth of personal experience, a dedication to do the necessary research, and a deep desire to spread the word. The most important question to ask yourself and one that your readers will ask is "Have you been there?"

A fresh outlook on a subject can be a great asset. When you are beginning in a new field, you most likely will have the same questions your readers will have. Write as you learn, record as you study, and blossom as you grow.  Then run your manuscript by other experts on your subject matter to make sure you have not left anything out or have written something you misunderstood.

Rule #2: Write what interests you.

What do you want to be doing in three years? When it comes to writing, plan both your future and your book now. As for nonfiction, it is best not to write on something that you are no longer interested in and do not want to pursue. Instead, write about what really interests you.

For example, let's say you have been selling cars for the past ten years but your passion is golf, and you are pretty good at the game. Do not write on cars even though you may be and expert. Instead, write on some aspect of golf. Subjects could include how to select the right golf clubs, great courses to play, golf etiquette, how to maintain a positive attitude.

Once your book is published, people will consider you to be an expert. Don't be surprised if people start requesting interviews, articles, or want you to conduct seminars and perform consulting work. If you want to be a successful nonfiction author, plan now to make sure the subject matter you select is the right one.

Remember, do not write about what you used to do; pursue a writing career around what you want to do.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Successful Nonfiction, written by Dan Poynter.]