Write, Market, Sell – It’s all about the Book

The Amazing Huff, a captivating story about a mysterious benefactor, was written by C. Herbert Locy and published by Graham Publishing Group.

The creation of a book is a process, a wonderful, arduous process.  Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.  A book – novel, memoir, business book, self-help book, even a comic book – takes time and discipline.  How much time? Lots of writers spend two or more years writing their book. It’s a journey, but one worth taking.

So, now that you’ve taken the journey, it’s time to get down to the business of it all. What does that mean?  It means the marketing and selling of your book. You don’t want to be one of those writers who gets the book done and think they’ve reached the finish line. The finish line is still far out in front of you.

Book marketing is one of the most important pieces of being a successful author. How do you get exposure? How do let your audience – assuming you’ve pinpointed your audience – know that you’ve got a finished product to sell.  And yes, your book is a product. Now you have to get it on the market and let people know it exists.  Just like any product.

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The Art of Book Cover Design

No Return Ticket, a captivating memoir, was written by Andi Crockford and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Never forget the art of it all.

You have written your book.  Whether it is a work of fiction, a business book, biography, or self-help book, it is special to you.  The book cover you design, or have a professional book cover designer help you design, should be just as special to you.  You can rely entirely on the designer to create something amazing, but I recommend sharing all of your ideas with that person.  What does your eye see?  What image from your book stands out to you?  Put all of your ideas into a file called: “My book cover.”

Start early in the process, even when the book is just coming together.

Make sketches. Take photos. Think about colors.  You are going to share these with your book cover designer. Don’t be shy.  Don’t say, “I’m not very creative.”  This is a collaborative process, so trust yourself.  A good book cover designer will welcome your input and take it seriously.

Don’t be shy about looking at other book covers from books in your genre.

You’re not going to copy what someone else did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find inspiration there.  Go to the bookstore in your neighborhood.  Explore books on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Takes notes. Have fun with it. A book cover is part of your marketing strategy, so take it very seriously.  It’s all about exposure, and a memorable book cover can draw attention to your book purely as a visual.

Don’t forget who your audience is.

This may sound obvious, but it’s not. Are you targeting men or women?  Baby boomers or millennials?  Are photos best for your cover or graphics?  Whose eye are you trying to catch?

Don’t go cheap just for the sake of going cheap.

Make sure the designer you are working with has the ability to create the images you want or has access to high quality images. There can be a huge disparity between amateur and professional presentations.  Do your research.  Make sure you see plenty of samples of your designer’s work, and do not settle for less than you want.

This is your book.

This is your heart and soul bound up in a book cover that will last for a very long time.  Settle for nothing less than exactly what you want.

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Plan A: Market the Heck Out of Your Book

This thrilling fantasy novel was written by Billy Wright and published by Graham Publishing Group.

You’ve heard the saying: There is no Plan B.  That’s how you should feel about the marketing of your book. Plan A: Market the heck out of it.  If there is a Plan B, it should be: Market the heck out of it even more.

Yes, I know, I’m putting the cart before the horse. First you have to write the book of your dreams.  Novel, memoir, business book, advice, self-help, a book health or inspiration. Yes, that book. It is an undertaking, no doubt about it. But everyone who has ever taken the arduous road to write a book or have a book ghostwritten is overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction when they hold that printed book in their hands. It is a proud moment.

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What Makes for a Beautiful Book Cover?

image of the cover of "The Aftershock"

The Aftershock, an inspirational memoir, was written by Kelli Poles and published by Graham Publishing Group.

The simple answer: one that sells your book.

Okay then, what are the things we can do to create a book cover that helps promote and sell your book?  Let’s find out.

Point One: The View from 30,000 Feet.

Your book cover is designed for one purpose only: to get a potential reader to open your book. Then your writing can carry the weight. The cover and the title are so important – yes, the title is part of the cover, and we can never forget that – and both cover and title have to give the reader of sense of your book’s content without saying too much. A book cover and title have to instill enough in the way of intrigue – even if your book is a self-help book or business book – to get the reader’s attention.

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The Print Book vs. Ebook Debate

Surreal Estate, a story about Palm Beach real estate corruption, was written by Sugar M. and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Here is the truth. There really is no debate. If you are an author and plan to publish your book independently, then you should know the pros and cons of creating a print book and/or an ebook. But know this: you need both.

Print book lovers love the feel of paper.  We all get that. Holding a book in your hand, exploring the cover, and feeling the pages at your fingertips is fantastic. All book lovers know this.      

Ebooks, on the other hand, are easy to read and easier to maneuver. It takes one hand. You can hold it any which way you choose and still see the words. You can change the font size. Heck, most e-readers these days have a built in light feature, which is darn convenient.

A print book can become community property. You can share it with your friends. You can leave it at one of those adorable mini-libraries people are putting in their front yards. Pretty cool.

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Publish, But Publish Smart

Blackhawk cover

Blackhawk, a story about a reclusive guitar legend, was written by Hayden Scott and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Begin with an assumption.  You’ve written a book.  A novel, biography, business book, self-help book.  It’s done.  Now it’s time to publish; time to publish smart.  Here’s some simple, but vital pieces to the publishing puzzle.

  1. Your book is done, but not perfect. No book ever is.  Seek out the best possible editor or editing group that you can. A content editor can make certain your presentation is at its highest level. A developmental editor can advise on flow, pacing, and consistency. A copy editor makes sure your manuscript is as clean as possible. 
  2. Do not underestimate the importance of your book cover. It is a prime marketing tool. It should absolutely reflect your story, your message, your mood. You may be tempted to design your own book cover, but this can be risky. Great book cover designers are few and far between. Know the difference between creativity and clip art, because plenty of so-called designers rely on the latter.
  3. Beware of vanity presses and self-publishing scams. They are running rampant in the industry.  They thrive on making promises they can’t possibly keep, like the promise of a sure-fire bestseller. Do your research. Know the kind of questions you need to ask. Getting your book in print form and ebook form is not expensive, but it has to be done right. 
  4. Only use a printing house that will also distribute and fulfill your books. You don’t have to buy a thousand books and store them in your garage. Print on demand is the new normal in self-publishing.  Again, do your research. Talk to people who have gone through the process, and then talk to some more.
  5. Market the heck out of your book. If you aren’t a celebrity or prominent public figure, you can’t just get your book on Amazon and sit back.  The public is very unlikely to stumble upon your book. Promote your book. Use every guerrilla marketing effort you can. Search out every program that companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble have to offer.  Work hard for book reviews. Find book bloggers. Send out press releases. Do your research.
  6. Stay positive. Things are not easy in the world of book publishing.  But you are an author. You will be published. Stay aggressive and believe in yourself. Be smart.
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Book Design – Facts and Fictions

The Aware Leader, perfect for effective leader development, was written by Richard Metheny and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Fact: The best book designers and book cover designers make themselves completely familiar with your book’s content, storyline, premise, and message.  If they don’t, find someone who will to commit their time to this critical phase.

Fact: Both your book cover as well as the interior layout of your book will reflect the content of your book.  Rest assured that everything from the font and images in your book to the symbols and colors used on the cover reflect the content.  Any book designer who says otherwise is not worth your time.

Fact: Keeping both the cover and the interior layout simple is your best choice. Complex designs and symbolism may strike you as cool, but most people won’t take the time to understand any hidden meaning before laying the book aside.  Minimalism does not mean boring.  It means understandable. And it can also mean compelling.

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Does Your Book Need Content Editing or Copy Editing?

Tuah was written by Jeyda Bolukbasi and published by the Graham Publishing Group.

There is often a mistaken perspective in the world of publishing – and self-publishing in particular – that content editing and copyediting are the same, or at least cut from the same cloth. They aren’t. The similarities are important; but the differences are even more so.

Let’s begin with an overview of editing, or how editing is viewed at Graham Publishing Group and our book design and editing teams.  We focus on two levels of editing when it comes to your manuscript, whether we are talking about a novel, memoir, business book, or self-help book. These are developmental editing and content editing.

In both cases, you are looking for someone who can review your material and make substantive changes to the text that are meant to improve the pace, flow, and overall quality of your writing.

With both developmental editing and content editing, your editor is working directly on the language of your piece.

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Finding the Right Book Designer for Your Indie Publication

The Eyes of the Moose was written by David Ranking Johnson and published by the Graham Publishing Group.

If you have invested the many hundreds of hours that go into writing a book, be it a novel, biography, business book, or self-help book, then you owe it to yourself to find exactly the right book designer to provide both excellent design work and smart publishing assistance.

With that in mind, let’s break down seven important factors that you will want to consider in finding the best possible book design firm.

Consideration # 1.  Make certain that your book designer explains every step in the process in a way that makes sense to you.  These steps include proofreading and book cover design as well as the proper interior layout of both your print book and e-book and the exact files you will need to implement your marketing programs.

Consideration # 2. If anyone, including your book designer, tries to tell you that you’re trading away the rights to your book when you publish, get away from those people as fast as you can. You own the rights to your book. The copyright is in your name. You own your book cover.  Always, always, always.

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Great Book Design Begins with Great Communication

Twin Flames was written by Charles Quinn and published by the Graham Publishing Group.

I know what you’re thinking when I say, “Great book design begins with great communication.” You’re thinking, “This is obvious.”  It should be, but it often is not.

An author works extremely hard to produce that special book.  Whether it’s a novel, biography, business book, or some type of self-help book or book of inspiration. As authors, we put our hearts and souls into our books.  Very often what happens next is that the person in charge of designing the book cover or orchestrating the interior layout of your book then jumps in and takes over.  What happens?  The author suddenly feels left out or without any say in the next steps of the book design process.  This is not how it is supposed to work.

The whole idea behind independent book publishing, or Indie publishing as it is often called, is that the author has much more control than he or she would if the book was a product of mainstream publishing. The great communication that I am speaking about begins the moment you and your book designer start to work on your book cover.  There should be from the outset an exuberant exchange of ideas about what the cover should look like. This begins with the book designer having a very clear picture of the story, in the case of a novel or biography, or the message, in the case of a business book or self-help book.  If your book designer is too lazy to read what you’ve written or uninterested in what you’ve written, find someone else.

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