The Business of Self-Publishing

This true story of loss and courage was written by Bonnie Henriksen and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Every person who writes a book is an entrepreneur.  Yes, there is an aspect of art in writing a book, but there is an equal part which is all business. You embraced the art, now you have to embrace the business. And why not. The business end is how you let readers know that you have a book.  Once they know, they can then appreciate the art.

It may sound cool to be published by a mainstream publisher such as Harper Collins or Penguin.  But it’s only cool if they are committed to selling your book.  It is important to know that their commitment varies from book to book. Not because they don’t want your book to sell.  They make money when it does, so why not.  The problem is not their lack of desire to make a success of your book; it is having the wherewithal to make it a success that is the age-old problem.

The problem is even more pronounced in this day and age. There are a few very successful writers, and then there is everyone else. And among the category of “everyone else” are many very talented writers.

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Five Habits of Effective Digital Marketing

Mixology is the second book in a modern fantasy series written by Jennifer Byars and was published by Graham Publishing Group.

Don’t you hate that phrase: effective digital marketing.

Don’t you hate when you hear about how successful some guy or girl is in getting their product noticed; in the case of this blog, the book that you have written or had ghostwritten.

Here is what I know. It’s all about making your daily marketing routine into a habit; or more than one habit, as it turns out.  Here’s five to try on for size.

Habit One: The Best Laid Plan. 

Sorry to share the bad news, but you have to have plan and you have to be organized.  Whether it’s posting on Good Reads, tweeting, or penning out a press release, you have to be precise even as you’re being creative. You have to know your budget as well as you do the proper use of the active voice.  A campaign for selling your book will only goes as far as the best laid plan.

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The Future of Book Design

This fearless memoir was written by Patricia Gunn and published by Graham Publishing Group.

It’s not a stretch to say that great book design begins with a perfectly designed book cover.  Here is a collection of thoughts about the direction of future book covers.

Why Not a Collage?  Even as kids, we were encouraged to create collages. Out of newspaper, out of photos, out of wrapping paper, out of trinkets.  Think about the power and fun of those creations.  Think about how powerful and engaging a well-designed collage might transpose your book cover.  While this is a trend you will see more of, the key is making sure the cover speaks to what you’ve written and gets the reader to explore the words inside.

The Power of Art.  More and more, cover designers will be thinking like artists. They will be looking for color trends in fashion, in modern art, in sports.  Better to think like an artist than to study merely the trends. If pink is the new black, then why not experiment with pink and purple, pink and orange, pink and gold.

Subtle is OUT.  In today’s world of books, big is bold when it comes to book covers, and bigger is the perfect accent for big.  Make sense?  Don’t just go big; but go big in a creative way. Catch the reader’s eye with big and bold font choices, but sprinkle in texture and light that holds the eye and brings a smile.

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Gaining Exposure for Your Book

This extraordinary memoir was written by Heath Smith Callahan and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Here is the challenge that every self-published author faces; actually it is the challenge that authors who are working with mainstream publishers also experience.  How do you gain maximum exposure for your book?  You have to get it out there where readers know it is available.  Exposure means being online via social media. Exposure means having a presence in chat rooms. Exposure means creating podcasts or finding podcasts willing to feature you and your book.  It means exploring traditional media. It means considering PR relationships. It also means being willing to attend or present at any event that it pertinent to the business of selling your book and marketing yourself as an author.

Marketing your book has to be viewed as a business.  You have to be willing to invest in your business.  This investment may very well include giving your product away in order to create a long-term platform.  Think about this. What is your market? If you’ve written a health book, then consider sharing your book with chefs, with health food stores, with cooking classes, with culinary schools, with fitness centers.  This is a short-term investment that you hope to parlay into long term marketing opportunities such as seminars in culinary settings, guest appearances at your local gym, speaking engagements at the local Rotary, and podcasts targeting health and fitness. You get the idea.

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Five Steps in the Self-publication Process

The VISTA-Alaska Letters

This motivational book,filled with stories of people who turned their lives around, is a collaboration between Edward Wilson and Graham Publishing Group.

You’ve written an awesome book. It may be your first, your second, or your tenth. It may be a novel, biography, business book, or self-help book.

Now it is time to see your creation in print, in an e-book format, and perhaps even an audio version. There are Five Steps in the self-publishing process, also called independent publishing, and each is essential to the success of your book.

Step One: Creation.  It doesn’t just happen; you have to sit down every day and write the book of your dreams.  Or you can hire a qualified, talented, and knowledgeable ghostwriter.  Do your due diligence. Don’t skimp on credentials, talent, or experience.

Step Two: Editing.  There are three types of editing to consider: developmental editing, content editing, and copy editing.  The goal of developmental editing is to raise your book to it’s highest level of presentation. Content editing emphasizes the language of your book.  Copy editing makes sure the finished manuscript is as clean as possible before entering Step Three.

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The Amazon Book Puzzle

A Gift Like Zoe's

This book, about a rebellious teen following near-death experience was written by C. C. Holmes and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Selling books on Amazon can and should be a positive. If you’ve written a novel, biography, business book, or self-help book, you want to maximize your relationship with Amazon. Let’s talk about how.

Amazon is in the business of selling books.  They want to effectively guide potential readers in their book search. They want to make effective recommendations to their visitors. You are also in the business of selling books, so make sure Amazon has all the relevant information they need to lead the reader to your book; things like keywords, sales figures, book genres, reader reviews, downloads, even browsing activity.

How can you help Amazon do this?

You will need to author a book description that gets both your reader and the Amazon search vehicle excited. Make it exciting, crisp, and enticing. Include things like awards you’ve received or accolades the book has garnered. You can suggest books that compare favorably to your book, i.e., picture a cross between Jaws and Gone with the Wind. Or, imagine Hemingway and Agatha Christie melding their talents. Don’t give away too much, but don’t skimp on the details. You don’t want the reader saying, “Huh?” but rather, “Wow!”

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Independent Publishing – What Is It?

This sci-fi novel was written by Kevin Note and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Independent Publishing is about you as an author going into business. Yes, the business begins with the writing of that special novel, biography, business book, or self-help book that you have long dreamed of completing, or with the hiring of a talented ghostwriter to assist you.  However, creating the product – and make no mistake that your book is a product – is only the beginning of every successful business.

Writing is hard work.  Independently publishing your book is also hard work. Both are extremely gratifying.  One is an extension of the other. Why? Because you are now in a competitive business environment where your success is judged just like any business; by the quality of your product, by your connection with your customers, by your willingness to apply your creativity to marketing the product you’ve created.

What are the elements of a successful business? It begins with a motivated and talented team. When the hiring begins, choose wisely. The very good news is that you are in control. You are the CEO.  Independent publishing is about having the final say on every important step in the process, from copy editing to book cover design, from the interior layout of your book to the choice of the font. You approve of the printer, the distribution they offer, and the fulfillment process they use.

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How to Get Reviews for Your Book


The Exception was written by Bill Tichenor and published by Graham Publishing Group.

We all know the positive effect that reviews have on our books, in particular when it comes to sales, and this is true whether you are independently published or mainstream published.  Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula; then again, maybe this is a good thing, because if there was a magic formula, then everyone would be doing it, and we’d all be in the same quandary.

There are three keys to the review journey:  Research, Patience, and Outreach.

First, never underestimate your existing fan base. This includes your social media followers, the business organizations you support, your email list, the writer’s groups you belong to, and your family and friends. These wonderful folks are already onboard in many ways. Many have already bought your book. Reach out to them. Ask for their help in creating a first wave of reviews.

Next, Amazon’s list of top reviewers. Do not assume these people are out of reach. Yes, they receive an avalanche of requests every day, but the effort is still worth it. One of their reviews is golden. Two, three, or more can be a serious momentum boost. The key: do it the right way.  Do your research. Follow the guidelines. Write a killer pitch. Don’t be put off by rejection.  Keep moving forward.

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Know Your Book Designer

an image of the Winning Wasn't Enough ecover

Winning Wasn’t Enough was written by Jessi Shamis and published by Graham Publishing Group.

When you are independently publishing your book or self-publishing, a book designer can and should be your best friend. After all the work you’ve put into creating a special novel, biography, business book, or self-help book, you deserve a finished product that looks fantastic, feels great, and reads easily.

Tip 1.  Know what you’re getting. Make certain that your book designer explains every step in the process, from proofreading and book cover design to the proper interior layout of both your print book and e-book and the exact files you will need to implement your marketing programs.

Tip 2. You own the rights to your book. Always. The copyright is in your name. Always.  You own your book cover.  Always.

Tip 3.  Make sure you have a contract with your book designer.  Make sure you know what’s in the contract, even if you have to show it to an attorney.  Make sure the terms of completion are spelled out to your satisfaction.  Make sure there is a termination clause that fits your needs.

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Independent Publishing vs. Vanity Presses


This business book, The Race for Good Credit, was written by Trent L. Pettus and published by Graham Publishing Group.

If you’ve spent as many days, weeks, and months as I have writing your very important and extremely special book, it is vital that you know the difference between publishing your book independently or relying on vanity presses or pay-to-publish companies.  They are worlds apart.  The latter wants you to pay them to perform a variety of services that you will be doing yourself no matter how you publish your book. They will also be making promises and claims that no publisher can make with regard to sales, marketing, and book exposure.

When you independently publish your book, you are essentially creating your own imprint. You are essentially creating your own small press.  You will be in charge of all creative aspects of the process. Yes, you may want to contract with a professional book designer to facilitate the process, but that book designer will answer to you. You may want an artist to create your book cover, but you will be sharing your ideas and having the final say on the cover that graces your book.  At Graham Publishing Group, we understand that the relationship we create with you is one of publisher (you) and publishing advisor (us).  As all effective independent publishers do, you will be asking questions and heeding advice, but, in the end, you are in charge.

Vanity presses expect you to be afraid of the process. They expect to prey upon your inexperience and convince you to pay to alleviate both the fear and the uncertainty.  That is not a partnership. That is not an effective and productive working relationship.

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