Welcome To Our Site...

SELF-PUBLISHING RESOURCES (SPR) is a consulting firm that specializes in turning out professional and creative work, while never losing sight of the individual. In an era when fewer and fewer good writers are able to get into print, SPR is committed to assisting deserving authors and professionals realize their dreams by producing superior books. Successful clients include attorneys and other professionals, CEOs, entrepreneurs, speakers, consultants, health-care providers, novelists, and authors from every genre. If you need quality self-publishing services, such as shaping a manuscript, advice on book packaging, or assistance with a profit-making national book marketing campaign, contact us today at 720-344-4388 for details and a free initial consultation!

Coming up with tempting titles for your nonfiction, self-published book

Posted By on April 23, 2013

You’ve got a fabulous book, but you’re stuck on the title. How do you motivate people to sip the sparkling prose of your pages? It’s a dilemma to be sure.

It usually works best to have a clear title over a catchy one. And ideally it should start with the two or three most relevant words, so when booksellers look it up on a database, they can immediately catch your drift. This will also help your book turn up more frequently in computer keyword searches.

When playing with titling, look at the power of numbers: 5 Ways to …, 7 Weeks to …, 21 Secrets for …, 101 Easy …, 307 Moneymaking Tips. It can go on and on. Studies show uneven numbers work best, by the way.

Another useful approach is to identify the three biggest problems your book solves. Become the reader and ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” or, “Why should I care?” Then cast these solutions in punchy, benefit terminology. Promise how you will change the reader’s life.

You can also stimulate title ideas by checking magazine article titles to see what thought ticklers they provide. Also peruse the teaser phrases on magazine covers. Sometimes by substituting just a word, you have a grabber title. Look within your book itself for catchy phrases that might make a captivating title. Listen to songs and read poems to find a phrase you might turn. Toss around clichés and common sayings to see if a slight change of wording would yield an appealing title.

Start writing down ideas—every idea that comes to mind. Let your mind wander with all possibilities. Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for likely candidates. Check any fuzzy definitions. Cast out those with no possible application. String the remainder together in various combinations. You may end up with ten or twenty possibilities. All the better. (Note: Save all of them; they can probably be used for chapter headings or subheads.)

Next, do some preliminary market research. Big corporations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to test people’s reactions. You can sample public opinion for free. Carry your list of suggested titles everywhere you go. Ask coworkers, relatives, neighbors, friends—even strangers—which they like best, and least, and why. Solicit the opinion of Facebook friends. Note their comments and suggestions.

As favored titles begin to emerge, play with them. See if by tossing two together you might mix in an appropriate subtitle.

And don’t forget the subtitle. There are two very good reasons. Books In Print and other important listing sources enter both the title and the subtitle, so you get more mileage out of your listing. It’s like getting a brief sales message free. It also gives you more opportunity to describe the book.

Subsidy publishing: Is it the same thing as self-publishing? No!

Posted By on April 22, 2013

If there is one area of self-publishing that seems to cause the most confusion it is what exactly constitutes self-publishing. In my mind, there is a very simple answer to that: You are the publisher.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? For some reason, it isn’t.

Way back before the days of POD “self-publishing” (and note my quotes around that), there was a fairly clear-cut delineation between self-publishing and what was known as vanity or subsidy publishing. If you self-published, you started up a publishing company, purchased your own ISBN prefix, and became a publisher. You paid an editor and a designer to put your book together for you (or you did it yourself), then you sent the files to a book manufacturer, paid for the printing, and sold the books for a profit. If you went with a vanity or subsidy press, you paid a company to publish your book for you under their imprint, meaning you paid them not only to publish your book but you also paid them for books when you needed them. They paid a royalty of sales—of which there were seldom any (unless your family members bought some books)

Somehow in recent years, the lines between self-publishing and subsidy publishing have become blurred. Mostly because the subsidies realized there is a stigma attached to books published that route (generally with very good reason since they publish poorly edited, badly designed books that are priced too high to sell), so they started calling themselves “self-publishing” companies. Print on demand “self-publishing” enabled the lines to become even more blurred.

But there are differences.

Fact: If your own company is not the publisher, you have not self-published.

Fact: If you have “self-published” using another company’s imprint, you have not self-published.

Fact: If you have to purchase your own books from a “self-publishing” company, you have not self-published.

Fact: If you receive a “royalty” from a “self-publishing” company, you have not self-published.

Fact: POD refers to a printing process—print on demand. It does not describe a way of publishing.

 

I urge authors to educate themselves before they make a decision to sign on with a subsidy press. In most cases, authors can truly self-publish for the same amount of investment—and they don’t have the subsidy stigma attached to their book.

Recycling media exposure in promoting your book

Posted By on April 20, 2013

If you are in the throes of promoting your book, you know the value of media exposure you get for free versus advertising you have to pay for. Media exposure gives you a one-two punch. First, you get space that could cost thousands of dollars if you had to buy it. Second, most of what is printed becomes support material that can be used as sales aids and promotional literature.

Reprints of articles are fantastic. It isn’t you saying you’re good; it’s the impartial publication. Who cares if its circulation is smaller than your neighborhood? Get it out there! Recycling a feature story or review can be more valuable than publishing it the first time. The media like to climb on a moving bandwagon. If they see you are already getting exposure, they are more likely to want to do a story.

You want to send these reprints to everybody! Get copies in the hands of wholesalers or distributors you’re wooing, to major bookstores or websites you hope will carry your book, to electronic producers you are pursuing, to your banker, to any investors, to board of director members. What’s interesting is that this publicity may well have been generated from one of your news releases. So now you send a news release about the news … to trade journals in your book’s industry, to associations to which you belong for their Member News sections, and so on. If in doubt, send it. It may even be appropriate for a direct-marketing package you are preparing for consumers.

A word of caution, however: While the writers of most reviews expect them to be reprinted by their very nature, feature stories and author profiles are often copyrighted, and may require reprint fees; check into this before doing any major duplicating.

 

Quotes for your book—how and why to get them

Posted By on April 19, 2013

Everyone has seen the quotes on the front and back of book covers (and often in the inside of books as well), talking about how great the book is. Known as quotes, burbs, endorsements, or testimonials, these little gems can provide big-time marketing value.

Schedule your book so you have some time between your completed edited manuscript and the beginning of the typesetting phase. Why? Because with imagination and research you can probably locate several noted people who may give your book an endorsement. These might be generally recognized experts on the book’s subject, or people you notice either writing or being written about and quoted in the course of your research. Or they might be celebrities in any field who have a known interest in your subject.

Once you have their names, find out how to contact these people through search engines, listings in various Who’s Whos, or social media.

Another option is to send your request directly to the Author’s Guild. If the author is a member, the Guild will be able to hook you up with current contact information. And don’t overlook asking friends or associates to refer you to someone with whom they have a connection. Contacts are very useful in promoting your book, both now and in all future stages. Ask your friends to write or call the people they are referring you to so your approach won’t hit them cold.

Here is how you proceed: Send the endorsement candidate a riveting cover letter introducing your project (and mentioning the friend who referred you, if this is the case), your bio, a brief but powerful overview of the book, and some possible sample quotes. Explain why you feel this person would find the material interesting, and ask if he will look it over and share his comments. These are busy folks. If you hope to get their cooperation, be quick and direct. And it never hurts to stroke their egos.

Whenever you want someone to do something for you, make it as easy for them as possible. Craft several customized rough drafts upon which they can extrapolate. “What a great book” endorsements aren’t as powerful as specifically slanted ones that each praise a different aspect of the book. Each should be one to three sentences in length.

With the person’s written permission, these favorable quotes become “advance comments.” They can be splashed across your promotional materials like paints across canvas. If the people are superstars in the field, their comments on your cover or dust jacket can send sales skyrocketing.

But these blurbs don’t come easy. Expect delays. Hesitancy. Nos. Now is the time to drag out your pleasant persistence. Stay in touch. Over and over and over again.

 

The publication date of your book—how important is it?

Posted By on April 18, 2013

Setting your book’s publication date is a bit more complicated than just deciding when you’ll have books in hand ready to sell. In fact, you should plan your pub date somewhat strategically.

If you are hoping to get reviews from industry publications (see my post about this from yesterday), keep in mind that they prefer to pass judgment before the official publication date. So you’ll want to tack on three or four months to give reviewers a chance to give you some free publicity.

Some other considerations come into play when choosing a publication date. Bear in mind that trade advertising is concentrated during those times of year when the sales force is making its effort to sell the forthcoming major publisher lists. That is in January and February, and again in June and July. Also remember that the time from Labor Day until shortly before the December holidays is rather chaotic as publishers vie for holiday gift dollars. Advertising and publicity (reviews especially) go hand in hand. If you can steer clear of these periods, you’ll have a better chance of garnering publicity, as there simply won’t be as much competition. Thus, December and January are especially good choices.

You might benefit by tying your pub date to some special event or day. A book on how to achieve success, wealth, and fame might well be launched on the birthday of Horatio Alger Jr., January 13. Mae Day, in honor of the ultra-liberated Mae West, is August 17. Got a book on how to attract men? This would make a heck of a link. There’s a great book called Chase’s Calendar of Events available that includes such goofy “holidays.”

Offset printing—when does it make more sense than print on demand?

Posted By on April 17, 2013

Digital printing (also known as print on demand, or POD) has enjoyed increasing popularity over the past few years; its quality has improved as well. It offers advantages over traditional offset lithography, including lower set-up costs, faster turnaround times, and little up-front investment. But sometimes it makes more sense to print the old-fashioned way and have your books done with an offset printing book manufacturer.

You need a large quantity of books. With offset printing, the higher your print quantity, the lower your unit cost. This can be very cost-effective if you need 500 copies of your book or more. (Incidentally, you can run both an offset run and sign up with a POD outfit such as Lightning Source that also offers distribution to the trade.)

You plan to sell books yourself directly from your website or in the back of the room. If those are your only two sales outlets, you’ll definitely want to go offset. (See above, however, where I mention printing both offset and POD.) If you want to sell via Amazon as well, you can easily create your own account and deal with them directly (or you can become an Amazon affiliate).

You have a lot of photographs or halftones in your book and print quality is of the utmost importance. Although digital quality has come a long way since its inception, it still is not quite as crisp as offset printing.

Your cover has used PMS (Pantone Matching System) colors and you are looking for a close match. This is one area I’ve run into quite a bit of trouble with in terms of offset versus POD. We created two versions of one client’s books (well, actually three when you add in the ebook version), a hardcover version with a dust jacket and a perfect bound version with a coated softcover. The colors on the dust jacket varied widely with the colors on the softcover version. The printer blamed my cover designer and we blamed the printer. It turns out, the printer sent out its dust jacket printing to another source, which actually printed the dust jacket accurately. The softcover version, on the other hand, wasn’t. We were finally able to resolve the situation well enough to make our client happy, but it was a hassle all the way around.

The week in publishing (April 8 through April 14)

Posted By on April 16, 2013

Here’s some of the latest in industry news and views:

From The Guardian: Ten ways self-publishing has changed the books world
After a boom year in self-publishing the headlines are getting a little predictable. Most feature a doughty author who quickly builds demand for her work and is rewarded with a large contract from the traditional industry. But in our rush to admire, there’s a risk we overlook the wider cultural significance of what is going on.

From Self-Publishing Resources: Goals—why you need them before self-publishing
I read somewhere that life is a journey, and like for any trip, an itinerary can be very helpful. The same is true for your self-publishing venture. Time and again, it has been proven that those who take the time to think through and write down the desired results in terms of specific steps are the people who achieve success.

From Self-Publishing Resources: Hashtags on Twitter—how to create your own
Twitter hashtags (#) are used to categorize tweets according to subject matter. If you attach relevant hashtags to them, your tweets are more readily found by others interested in your subject matter. This gives you a better chance to increase your followers and it makes it easier to interact with other “tweeps.”

From Self-Publishing Resources: Knowledge—and nearly fifty years of it
Since I’m participating in the A to Z April Blogging Challenge this month—blogging all the letters of the alphabet—and blogging every day (except Sundays) I’m going to take the liberty of veering off topic today.  (The only think I could think about regarding publishing that started with a “k” is “kerning”—and that just ain’t a whole blog post!)

 

 

 

News releases—and writing one for your book

Posted By on April 15, 2013

A news release—also called a “press release”—seems to be one of the most underutilized tools for promotions by self-publishers. Most authors are usually surprised when I suggest this is a great way to reach the media, and they are further astonished to learn that much of what we read as “news” was written by someone somewhere who sent in a news release. The trick is to tie your book release into some sort of news that will be of interest to the media.

The standard news release generally consists of the following parts:

Heading, or headline. Make sure yours is compelling or no one will bother to read past it.

Contact information. Include your book title, subtitle, your name as it appears on the book, the ISBN, the LCCN, binding, page count, and price, along with contact name, phone number, email address, and website.

Release information. Generally, “For Immediate Release” appears at the beginning of the release since it is purported to be current news.

Dateline. News releases general include a place of original, directly before the first paragraph.

Initial paragraph. This needs to be just as interesting as your headline—and it needs to tie in directly with some sort of news event.

Body text. The paragraph after the initial paragraph usually includes a quote from and credentials of the author of the book. The quote should reinforce the news angle of the first paragraph. Ensuing paragraphs will describe the book, but keep in mind the news aspect of the press release. Avoid any text that sounds too sales-y. This is strictly news.

Final paragraph. I like to end with an endorsement, if you’ve got a meaningful one. In addition, repeat the contact name and phone number and email address, as well as price and book ordering information.

Keywords. Since most news releases are online these days, don’t forget to use a few strategically placed keywords.

Ending. It was customary “back in the day” of typewriters to indicate the end of a news release with three hastags (# # #). I used to do this pretty consistently, but I admit I do it less and less.

 

Marketing plans—Some basics to get you started

Posted By on April 15, 2013

I see too many self-published authors come to well after their book has been published, wanting to talk marketing. The fact is, marketing your book should come well before it’s published…even before it’s written.

What should you consider when creating your own book marketing plan?

Define your goals.

This is one of the first questions I ask authors when we talk about book marketing. Authors need to decide exactly what they hope to achieve with their book, whether it’s career credibility, lots of money, or a traditional publishing deal. Make sure you are clear on what you want. And write it down.

Identify your audience.

I hear it all the time: “Everyone is a potential reader for my book.” That’s a pretty lofty assumption and generally it is not the case. Be realistic about who your audience is and how you might reach them.

Decide on a budget.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Some authors have little budget; others have more. Figure out what you’ve got and determine how you can get the most bang for your buck.

Customize your promotional plans based on your strengths.

If you despise social media, obviously you’re not going to want to focus your marketing plan on Internet marketing. (Unless you have the budget to hire someone to handle this for you.). Figure out what your strengths are and utilize those when it comes to devising your plan.

Set a schedule for promotions.

Marketing has to be constant and consistent if you are to get the best results. Keep track of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done to stay on track. Keep yourself organized.

Bottom line: Don’t wait until the last minute to determine your book’s promotional plan. You can write the best book in the world, but you won’t see any if no one knows about it.

Library of Congress Catalog Number (LCCN)—what it is and where you get it

Posted By on April 13, 2013

After going completely off-topic yesterday, let’s get back to all things publishing. Today is for “L” in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, so let’s get right to it.

The acronym LCCN originally stood for Library of Congress Card Number in 1898 when the numbering system first went into use. Back then, the Library of Congress prepared cards of bibliographic information for its library and would then make the same cards available for sale to other libraries. Each set of cards had a serial number. This was known as “centralized cataloging.”

Of course, most bibliographic information is now electronically created and shared with other libraries, but each unique record still needs to be identified, and that’s what the LCCN does. In February 2008, the Library of Congress created the LCCN Permalink service, providing a URL for all Library of Congress Control Numbers.

All requests for Preassigned Control Numbers (PCNs) must be made online. First complete the Application to Participate http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/ to obtain an account number and password. Then follow email instructions to submit your title information and receive your LCCN within a week (often it’s just a day or so). The LCCN should go on the copyright page of your book, usually under the ISBN.

Your book needs one, and you can obtain one as a self-publisher (as long as you are actually self-publishing under your own publishing company name, not using a vanity press). If you hope to sell to libraries—and it can be a great market—you must have an LCCN.