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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!

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.

Knowledge—and nearly fifty years of it

Posted By on April 12, 2013

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!)

I’m gearing up for a birthday next month. And it’s a biggie. Fifty. A half-century. Six hundred months. Eighteen thousand two hundred sixty two days. I’m definitely no spring chicken anymore.  I am active and take good care of myself, so I feel more like 25, honestly. Maybe I’m lucky—or blind—but I don’t see 50 when I look in the mirror either. (Or as I like to tell people, “this” is what 50 looks like!) I have a five-year-old son—yes, I gave birth to him!—so getting or feeling old is just not an option.

It turns out this is becoming a big year for me. Not just because of the monumental birthday (50?! Man, that big number makes me cringe! And yes, I realize it’s way better than the alternative.), but because it is turning out to be a year of transition. I’ve made some decisions in my personal life that will change me and my son forever. I’m expanding my career to include more things I love and which I’m expecting will be satisfying and lucrative. I’m finally dealing with some things I’ve put off and which will enable to me move forward with (dare I say?) the second half (best half?) of my life.

So with age supposedly comes wisdom. Is that actual smarts or just the ability to see that there is still so much to learn? I’m leaning toward the latter. In 50 years of living, I’ve learned a lot. But it’s becoming more clear to me than ever that I still have a long way to go. Especially when it comes to insight about myself. Because if there is one thing I’ve realized, getting older doesn’t mean getting wiser unless you’ve looked within. And that is true knowledge.


Juggling the many aspects of self-publishing

Posted By on April 11, 2013

Most people go into a bookstore and pick up a book without thinking about the work that went into it. New authors are often no different.

I get a lot of phone calls from authors who have read my book, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition, and frankly, they usually sound pretty overwhelmed. One of the things that strikes them most after reading this 576-page tome (yup, it’s big!) is that there are so many details to the publishing process.

Knowledge is power, though, so what sort of balls can the self-publishing author expect to juggle throughout the process?

Obviously, first you are a writer. Without your manuscript, you aren’t in business.

You are an editor. And I don’t necessarily mean that you should be editing your manuscript yourself. I highly recommend you hire a pro and work with him or her to hone your work to a fine edge. Too many authors rush into the publishing process, only to regret it later.

You are an art director. Unless you know a program such as Adobe’s InDesign, please don’t try to design and lay out your own book. I don’t recommend you do it in Word or Publisher. And please PLEASE! don’t try to design your book cover unless you are an experienced book cover designer. Nothing is worse than authors asking for feedback on their proudly displayed book cover, only to have to tell them it looks amateurish. Make sure your self-published book doesn’t look self-published.

You are a print buyer. I’m including ebooks under this umbrella. You’ll have to decide on printing just a paper book, doing just an ebook, or both. And you’ll need to figure out all the ins and outs.

You might be a shipper/warehouse. Some authors still prefer to print the old-fashioned way (offset printing versus print on demand), so they’ll need to figure out where to store and how to ship those books.

You are a business manager. As a publisher, you’ll be responsible for the administrative details of running a business.

You are a marketeer. This is often the toughest aspect of being an indie publisher but the most important—well, other than writing the book. But you can write the most compelling book in the world—and no one will buy it if no one knows about it.

Go into the publishing process being aware of the many different aspects of it. Knowing what to expect and what needs to be done will help ensure you are able to juggle it all. There’s a lot of information out there, so educate yourself. You’ll be much more likely to succeed.

An index—Does your book need one?

Posted By on April 10, 2013

Nine out of 10 self-publishing authors of nonfiction works (novels and poetry don’t need indexes) tell me the same thing: I don’t think my book needs an index. And I’ve noticed that there seems to be a growing trend among authors to run with that theory and publish books without them.

Author, blogger, and indexer Nancy Humphrys Wordmaps Indexing brings up a valid point:

Bad indexes, and no indexes at all, both transfer the work of finding something in a book from the seller to the buyer. In my world (of self-employment and business-owning) that time spent means money lost.

An index increases a book’s usefulness and salability. Honestly, it seems kind of lazy and cheap for an author not to include one.

But how do you go about giving this mass of information shape and form? Indexing can be reasonably simple when approached logically. It is basically a series of decisions. And no one is more familiar with the material—or better equipped to make these decisions—than you.

First, think through the book; review your outline or the table of contents for a mind jog. You wouldn’t want to slight any primary idea or philosophy. This is an intellectual, as well as clerical, task that cannot be completed with software. Decide on the main concepts of your book. Consider how readers will use it. What questions will they have? What material may they wish to locate again? Look at the indexes in several books from your personal library to get a feel for format.

Here’s where some help by way of technology comes in: Virtually all the new page layout and word processing programs have powerful built-in indexing capabilities. Most allow you to create a concordance, which is a list of frequently appearing names, terms, or words. Then the indexing program automatically searches the entire book and lists each page number where the words appear.

A word about indexing software: Although indexing software is a tremendous aid to the professional indexer, it by no means creates indexes “automatically,” any more than a spelling or grammar checker can edit a text on its own. Beware of vendors who claim that the services of a professional indexer can be replaced by running a software program on the text of a book. The intellectual and analytical work of indexing is the task of the human brain, and no software program can duplicate it. Indexing programs available to professional indexers can help the indexer to produce, sort, and manipulate entries; establish subheading sequences; restyle and amend entries; and keep track of what has been indexed where. On the other hand, the indexing add-ons included with word processors and desktop publishing programs are usually far less efficient as aids to creating a high-quality index.

Honestly, if you start Googling “how do I create an index?” you may decide to hire a professional indexer. (Read “How to Index a Book [And Why I’ll Never Do It Agai]” here.) It’s not an easy or fast process. An indexer will charge you based on the number of pages in your book, and it’s well worth it for a good, thorough index.

To once again quote Humphreys:

So here’s my answer to  “When Can I Omit an Index for My Book?” Only when no one will ever want to go back and find something in it.



Hashtags on Twitter—how to create your own

Posted By on April 9, 2013

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.”

I’ve compiled a list of hashtags that pertain to writers, authors, and self-publishers here. But what if you want to create your own? There are no specific rules in place for doing so, so here are some tips.

Make it short. Since each Tweet is limited to 140 characters, your hashtag should take up as little of that as possible. Try to keep your hashtag to 10 characters or less.

Make it as specific as possible. For instance, there are several genre-specific hashtags such as #SuspenseFiction and #SciFiChat. These make the conversation surrounding the hashtag more useful to people.

Make it easy to remember. #FollowFriday (or #FF) and #WriterWednesday (or #WW) are two examples of alliterative, easy-to-remember hashtags.

Make sure it isn’t already in use for another topic. There are third-party tools you can use to search this, such as HashTags.org.