U-Publish 5.0

7 Action Items to Take Before You Begin Writing Your Book

By Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow

Much has been written about what you need to do when you are writing your book. For example, Book1Blog is filled with over 100 posts on the subject. Yet, some of the most important actions you can take should occur before you begin writing. Here is some solid advice worth considering.

  1. Don't make the mistake of writing your book before you know your audience. Do some initial research to identify the type of readers you want to aim your book at before you start writing.
  2. Go to libraries, bookstores and the internet. Read and study other books that are similar to your subject matter. Your book will have a much better chance for success if it fills a need that you discover is not already met, or does a better job at meeting the needs of your audience.
  3. Observe how comparable books are made. Are they soft cover, hard cover or coil bound? How many pages do they contain? What is their pricing? What is their overall appearance? Then plan your book to be truly competitive in each respect.
  4. Read books written by experts that offer self-publishing advice and tips. Such books can give you insights before your begin writing and help you avoid potential pitfalls down the road.
  5. Join one or more trade associations and/or local book writing organizations. Such groups can provide meaningful opportunities for ongoing education and networking.
  6. Talk to book designers. An experience book designer can explain things such as why each chapter might start on a right-hand page, or why faces in a photo should be at least as big as a dime.
  7. If you are truly self-publishing and plan to hire a book printer, discuss your project with some professional printers. These folks can show you how to optimize your printing dollar that can save money.

It's generally considered that books such as successful novels and poetry books are tougher to write than successful nonfiction books. The reason is that it is harder to pinpoint the audience for general fiction than for a book about a specific, practical topic. However, regardless as to the type of book you plan to write, it- will have a greater chance for success if you plan carefully beforehand - before you begin actually writing.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

Some Advice to Those Who Have Just Published Their Books

[Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow offer the following advice to those authors who have just published their books and have begun their "marketing journey."]

Online or offline, the key to book marketing success is to "think outside the box." On an impulse, Dan Poynter once offered a carton of books about self-publishing to a local instant print center. Apparently, writers do a lot of instant printing, because the books soon sold out, and the center ordered more. Now Dan supplies many printing and copying centers with his books, as a regular part of his business.

Use your imagination. If you have a new idea, try a small test and see if it works. You may be pleasantly surprised when an unusual idea takes off.

Make a list of every possible public and private institution, print or broadcast medium, business or individual with potential interest in your book. Contact each of them individually with a proposal specifically tailored to the needs of the recipient.

Ask yourself "Who benefits when people read my book?" Then contact every one of them individually and get them involved.

One of the greatest benefits of self-publishing is that authors are passionate about their subjects, and know their specific markets better than most book industry people. A traditional publisher or bookseller might know (or care) very little about your book's topic. To them, your book is just one more product among thousands of others.

But as the author, you are a participant. Harness your more intimate understanding of the subject and its audience, and you can do a better job of marketing and book promotion than an outsider who sees your book as a product rather than a passion.

To your book writing success!

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

This Handy Checklist Will Help You Complete Your Book Project

Prior to completing your book writing project, here is a handy checklist that will help avoid something "falling through the cracks."

1. If it is late in the year (September through December), use the following year for the copyright and publication date. Shoot for a January release. This avoids the "appearance" of your book being old, when it is actually new.

2. Research online and at your local library to compile a list of publications that might write a book review.

3. Each advance copy you send to a reviewer costs money, so offer copies only to those who are realistically likely to review your book.

4. If you want to sell your books through chain bookstores, Amazon.com, other online venues and to libraries, you will need an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and possibly a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and/or Catalog-in-Publication (CIP) data. Information about applying for an ISBN is available from R.R. Bowker. Details about LCCN applications and CIP datat may be obtained from the Library of Congress. Your book will also need a barcode with the ISBN on the back cover.

5. If you plan to use direct mail, prepare your materials well in advance. It is much better to send a smaller, carefully targeted mailing than a larger mailing with less direct interest. If possible, start with a test mailing of 200 pieces.

6. Create a website for your book before it is released. Offer a sample chapter or excerpts as a free preview. Be sure your site includes an online press kit with a sample book cover.

7. Highlight your website location on your book's back cover, on your letterhead, business cards, other promotional pieces and in the signature of every email message you send.

8. Consider offering "autographed" copies, which add value for readers.

9. Notify personal contacts and others who have a special interest in your book's subject matter.

10. Don't forget to notify the publications of schools you attended and fraternal, social, religious or professional groups with which you are affiliated.

[The above checklist was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

Launching Your Book - A List of Action Items to Follow

For many writers, holding the first copy of their book in their hands is a defining moment in life. Savor it. Then roll up your sleeves, because the real work of self-publishing is just beginning. The following action items will help you get started.

  1. Save a handful of copies from the first printing for yourself. If your book takes off, you'll enjoy having a few of the earliest copies on hand.
  2. Earlier, you may have received requests from book reviewers who prefer finished books, rather than copies of the galley. Mail these review copies right away, because reviewers prefer "fresh" books.
  3. Send one-page book announcements to newspapers, radio and TV stations in your geographic area, as well as the publications of school you attended, and social, fraternal, religious and professional groups of which you are a member. Offer excerpts, interviews and live appearances.
  4. Send additional book announcements to print and broadcast media that focus on subjects closely related to your book. Offer print media the right to excerpt from your book. Offer broadcast media live interviews. Emphasize why your book is newsworthy, and how they can contact you for expert commentary in future reports.
  5. If you have received advance orders, ship them promptly, with a note of thanks and a request to tell others that the book is out. Invite each buyer to post a review at the site where they ordered the book.
  6. Donate a copy to each library, school, church or other organization in your area that might invite you to hold a live event. Offer to do readings, signings, workshops or seminars.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind.

Make your events more than just book signings. Call them "workshops" or "seminars" and try to give the audience information of practical value.

You may not want to send the announcements mentioned above strictly by email. In today's world, there is so much spam that emails are often deleted unread. Consider sending announcements by postal mail or fax.

Book reviews and media coverage may be the best ways to promote your book. They are better than advertising. First of all, media coverage is free. In addition, the public finds reviews and reports more credible than advertising.

Note that we have not mentioned bookstores. This is because most bookstores (especially fhe major chains) prefer to order from wholesalers, expect big discounts, full returnability and take a long time to pay.

And remember, even though the above steps are all important at the time you release your book, most likely you will want to repeat some of these procedures as you book gains in popularity.

[This post was created from excerpts taken, with permission, from U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

Six Tips to Help You Start Your Book Project

[Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow offer the following great advice for anyone beginning their book writing project.]

Perhaps the most difficult part about writing a book is getting started. If you are planning to write a book, the tips listed below may be of great help to you.

1. Write about a subject you know well, and one that you enjoy. This will not only make the process of publishing more pleasant, but also more profitable (if you are planning to sell your book).

2. Begin writing with a specific plan that includes the topic, market(s) and physical description of your book.  For example: "My goal is to write a paperback book about organic fertilizers that I will sell for $14.95 at garden centers, tree nurseries, flower shows, horticulture clubs, from my own website and with a limited amount of direct mail. It will be about 15,000 words (roughly 100 pages) in length, 6x9 trim size, with a full color cover, black and white interior, a few illustrations, index and bibliography.

3. Make sure that your own web site is highlighted on the cover and inside your book.

4. Pick a style manual, such as the AP Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style. Both are available at most libraries and bookstores. Follow the guidelines consistently. For example, when a quotation ends with a question, does the question mark appear inside the quotation marks or outside? Either way is okay, but your manuscript should be 100% consistent throughout.

5. A big part of writing well is economy of style: express your points clearly and simply, with as many words as needed, but not a single word more. Economy of style will later translate to economy of budget - reducing your editing costs, typesetting and layout costs, printing costs, shipping costs, and more. Non-essential pages also do a disservice to your readers.

6. Work with an editor, or at least a qualified proofreader - someone with a working background in spelling and grammar. This is true even if you are a gifted writer. Authors are often so close to their own work that they overlook problems that might seem obvious to an outsider.

And above all, enjoy the project!

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from U-Publish.com 5.0 written by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

Something You Need to Know Before You Write Your Book

Writing your book is just the beginning - the proverbial tip of the iceberg. A larger investment of time and money must be made once your manuscript is completed. Book promotion is the part of the iceberg that is under the water.

As an author, you have the responsibilities of a parent. Your book is a new member of your family, and it will need your guidance, energy and nurturing to grow successfully.

Books cannot flourish on their own, and it does not matter if you sell your manuscript to a publisher or self-publish it. You, the author, must do the promotion. Book publishers do not  promote books. They may be able to get your book into stores and distribution outlets, and they can list your book in their catalogs and on their websites - but that's it. You must find customers who are interested in your book and get them into the stores, pulling your book through the system.

So how can you do this with, possibly a limited budget?

First of all, watch your money. Do the free and inexpensive promotions first. Use email rather than envelopes and stamps; send copies of your book to book reviewers and stage local speaking engagements, interviews, book signings and mini seminars.

Develop a written promotional plan. Prioritize your ideas, placing the most important ones first. Then work you way through your list. If you have a day job or some other activity that occupies part of your day, it will likely take you longer to get through your list. But you will be secure in the knowledge that (1) you are doing all the right things to promote your book, and (2) you are doing them in the right order.

[This post was created, with permission, from the preface to U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

Promoting Your Book Through Non-Traditional Book Markets

What do we mean by "non-traditional book markets?" In an earlier post, we mentioned an example of a book about organic fertilizers. While relatively few bookstore customers would probably be interested in this narrow subject, nearly all of the customers of a tree nursery or gardening center could be potential readers. By selling this book through nurseries, you have just experienced a non-traditional book market.

Here are some other things to consider regarding non-traditional markets:

  1. Non-traditional markets will probably accept smaller discounts (20% to 30% to start), will pay faster, and return fewer (if any) unsold books. As a starting point, offer to provide a dozen copies on consignment. If they sell relatively quickly, offer two dozen more at a bigger discount, COD. Then check back periodically to make sure they have enough stock.
  2. Additional non-traditional markets to pursue include live events held at libraries, schools, churches and other public locations. And don't forget potential bulk sales to businesses and other institutions that focus on related topics.
  3. Don't be shy about offering your book to people you know personally, especially those named in the acknowledgements. Church groups, trade associations, social clubs, civic groups, fraternities, alumn associations and other organizations with which you are affiliated are also good prospects. Contact all of them.
  4. At live events, readers often pay full price for books, usually in cash, and of course there are no shipping or handling charges. This compared to traditional book trade outlets, which often "require" 50% below cover price. And, when possible, turn these live events into book signing events.
  5. If your book gives positive treatment to a product, service, company or other institution, offer them copies, and ask them to help promote your book. For example, if your book is about investing, talk to banks, stock brokerages and other financial institutions that might want copies for their customers as a gift or premium.

As a self-publishing author, you have an opportunity to take advantage of specialty book markets. Use your intimate understanding of your audience to identify what and where these markets are, and make you book available to them. You may discover that promoting your book through these non-traditional markets to be a successful book marketing strategy.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]