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Book design for self-publishing authors

What is book design like when you choose to self-publish your work? Mathias Lord of Hewer Text fills us in.

Book design is something readers appreciate but usually don’t notice. However, if you are a self-publisher, it is crucial to know about book design. What is it, and what are the main differences between book design in traditional publishing and self-publishing?

What is book design?

Today the term usually refers to both cover design and typesetting. In short, the former consists of everything on the outside of the book; the latter everything between the covers.

Seen from a marketing perspective, cover design is supposed to grab your attention, whilst typesetting is meant to be invisible, insofar as it allows the text to communicate clearly and without interruption.

Cover design involves creating the picture or illustration, the word art (title, author name etc), and placing various other information (like quotes and blurbs). It’s the initial pitch that makes the casual browser open or buy a book.

Typesetting is less artistic but more complex. It deals with everything from the broader layout and presentation to specifics such as fonts and line spacing. This is all about making the text flow, look professional and comply with industry standards. There are many formatting rules and details in publishing, and self-publishers will benefit from understanding them.

Readers and writers often think they can do typesetting themselves, but it is a bit like saying that because you’ve ordered the same drink hundreds of times, you can recreate it yourself. (If you do, it may not taste very good!).

Traditional VS Self-Publishing

1) Control

So how do these processes differ in self-publishing? In essence, the author has more control. The execution is similar, the quality exactly the same, but it’s the author who calls the shots.

It usually happens like this:

The designer and typesetter are given a brief by the author, either specifying what they desire or simply throwing a few ideas and images at them (like which books they like and want theirs to emulate).

Once they have a draft, the author receives this and gives feedback. The number of editing sessions varies, depending on how specific the author has been, and how much they are willing to spend on the services.

2) Time

Self-publishing is fast. You can have a draft illustration within weeks, and the feedback and edits can be completed quickly and directly.

Why is it so fast?

Think of it like this: when a traditional publisher commissions a designer or typesetter, the drafts have to be run by several departments, who all have multiple book projects to juggle, and differing opinions about how the book should look. This interdepartmental coordination is time-consuming and often side-steps the author. In self-publishing, however, the author is the boss and the customer.

3) Challenges

“With great power comes great responsibility”

Although this control is mostly positive, it does come with challenges. The author cannot just sit back and enjoy the ride. They need to stay focused. Neither should they try to dictate every minuscule aspect of the book. This will delay the entire project and does not usually result in a better product.

Because there is so much to coordinate and finish before the book is published, it is wise to make a time schedule and stick to it. Limiting the amount of feedback and editing sessions with the designers will save authors a lot of time and money without reducing the quality of the end product. Ask yourself: is this important? Can it wait and be delivered with other feedback?

Bottom line?

Don’t try to bite over too much. As a self-publishing author, you have control but also responsibility. Writers should go into the self-publishing process with a plan but also an open mind. Designers and typesetters are patient, helpful and professional but work much better with an organised author.

Mathias is the self-publishing director at Hewer Text (HT-Publishing). He is in charge of coordinating self-publishing projects and consulting with authors. Follow him at @hewertext or contact him at mathias@hewertext.com.

 

8 steps to writing a book that sells

Writing a book can be a great way to market yourself and even make money. But actually finishing the steps to writing a book and achieving the results you want is much harder in practice. In this article I’ll share the eight steps to writing a book that sells: from determining your goals to writing to marketing.

1) Determine your goals

As I mentioned, writing a book can help you achieve one or more potential goals. These goals include:

  • Building your brand
  • Generating leads for your business (consulting, speaking, video courses, etc.)
  • Making money

The steps you take to writing your book, and your strategies for doing so, must be influenced by your goals.

Some topics are extremely competitive on Amazon. If your goal is to make money, it might not be possible if you’re writing about one of those topics. If your goal is to make money, the topic you select is far more important than if your goal is to build your brand in your industry. However if your goal is to build your brand in your industry, the topic is mostly accounted for and the competition of your topic is less important.

2) Know who your audience is

Determining your audience is more of a thought experiment than a tangible deliverable. But it’s an important thought experiment that will impact the next steps to writing your book.

Without knowing who your audience is, how can you know what or how to write? Without knowing who your audience is, how can you know how to position and market your book?

To complete the step of determining who your audience is, create a customer avatar or “persona.” This is a practice common in business, marketing and product management. Basically, it’s a fictitious representation of your target customer or reader.

If you’re writing about self-publishing on Amazon, your target audiences might include:

  • Consultants and speakers looking to build their brands and generate leads
  • Internet marketers who want to make money online

Go beyond the bullet points above. Write out, in as much detail as possible, the demographics of your target audience, what their goals are, what challenges they have, what’s valuable to them, and what questions they have as it pertains to the topic of your book.

As questions come up while you are writing, producing and marketing your book – as they inevitably will – think back to your personas. What would they want from your book?

3) Pick a topic

Picking book topic is about as important as picking a business idea. It requires finding a balance between supply and demand – finding a topic that your audience wants to read about but that there’s not too much competition for.

It’s ok if there’s competition if there’s enough demand. In fact, having some competition is indication that there is demand. Lack of demand is a big reason why businesses, and books, fail.

The topic must also be tied to your goals. If your goal is to market your marketing consulting business, you wouldn’t write a book about monkeys.

So, to pick a topic for your book, think about what challenges and questions your target audience has. What are they actively searching for on Google? What are they already buying on Amazon?

Browse Amazon. Look at the rankings of other books on your topic. Look at the appropriate category for your book. How well are the bestsellers in those categories doing?

If your goal is to make money, find gaps on Amazon. If your idea doesn’t meet an unmet need, it will be harder to make consistent income from it. But if you find a topic that’s valuable to your target audience and balances supply and demand on Amazon, you’re in a great place.

4) Write your book

Some people like to set goals and form habits. If that works for you, eat your heart out. Maybe your goal will be to write 10,000 words by December 1st. Maybe your habit will be to wake up at 6am and write 1,000 words every morning.

I, however, prefer to build systems. To do this, I started by determining my “ends goals.” My ends goals are to be healthy (mentally and physically) and helpful – and writing helps me achieve both of those. I remind myself of those ends goals all the time. Doing so keeps me motivated and energized.

Then, I determined, through various experiments, when and how I do my best writing. It’s in the morning. So, I focus on creating a system that enables me to write in the morning and executing on the “inputs” that can enable it to happen. The inputs include getting high quality sleep, eating healthy, exercising, not overcommitting myself personally or professionally, and being around people I love.

In terms of the actual content of your book, be sure to provide value to your target audience, in the form of education and/or entertainment. The more readers like your book, the more good reviews you will get on Amazon. The more good reviews you get on Amazon, the more books you will sell.

5) Edit and proofread

Your opinion of your book does not matter. The only opinion that matters is your reader’s.

After writing, re-writing and editing your book over and over again, you will inevitably miss some obvious shortcomings and typos.

Get your book edited for:

  • Quality of content
  • Style and wording
  • Spelling and grammar

Get feedback from your target audience on the content. How helpful was it? What questions do they still have about the topic?

Hire an editor/proofreader for style, wording, spelling and grammar.

Readers will take any excuse they can get to leave a bad review for your book. Make sure your book is crystal clean. By getting your book edited for all of the above, you’re more likely to get good reviews.

6) Produce your book

You could have the best written book with the most valuable content – and even do the best marketing in the word – but if people who landed on your book page aren’t compelled to buy it will all be a waste.

When a potential reader lands on your book page on Amazon, there are a few factors they have to look at in order to make their decision on whether or not to buy your book. These are:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Cover design
  • Reviews

Write a title that piques interest, describes what the book is actually about, and displays the value the reader will gain from reading it. Bonus points if it contains keywords that help you rank in Amazon’s search results. You can read my best advice on writing a book title here. If you’re stuck, use PickFu to split test.

Your book description should not be a list of the topics covered in your book or a brief summary. It’s purpose is to sell! Read my best advice for writing a book description here.

Design a cover that grabs attention and looks professional. Look at the covers of books in your niche that are performing well. Use a similar style…but make it much better! Ask friends and colleagues if they know a designer who’s designed book covers before. Look at their work before hiring them. Give the designer detailed instructions on what you want, what other covers you like, and give them feedback on their first draft.

I’ll talk about getting reviews in the book marketing section at the end of this article.

7) Self-publish your book

Authors are not limited to writing ebooks or waiting for a big publisher to choose their book. The amazing self-publishing platforms of today give authors access to the following formats:

I’ve created comprehensive and step-by-step guides to self-publishing your book on these platforms so I’ve linked to them above. I won’t cover that all again here. But if after reading the above guides, you still have questions, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.

8) Market your book

It doesn’t matter how amazing your book is – if know one knows about it, no one will buy it.

There are two pieces of book marketing that need to be done right in order to get results: traffic and conversion.

The conversion part is covered in step #6 above on producing your book’s title, description and cover. So I’ll focus on traffic here.

If you don’t already have a big audience or email list, your best source of traffic to your book will probably be Amazon itself. But Amazon doesn’t promote every one of the gazillion books on it’s platform. Amazon promotes the books that will help the company make money. It promotes the books that their users actually buy.

How does Amazon know if your book is one of the good ones? It looks at factors like reviews and downloads. You can leverage book promotion sites to get downloads. Check out my case study on book marketing here to learn how to make all that happen.

But for significant success over the long-term, you will need a “platform.” Build an email list. How can you get people onto your email list? Try one or more of the below depending on what your audience uses and the level of competition for each in your particular industry:

My #1 piece of advice for getting good reviews is simply to write a great book. Without that step, none of the rest of these steps to writing a book that sells really matter over the long run.

If you want more detailed instructions on writing a book that sells, download the checklist below. Happy writing!

Mike Fishbein is a digital marketer and bestselling author. He writes about content marketing, self-publishing and personal development. This post was originally published on his site.

10 ways for authors to save money on editing

Track ChangesLisa Poisso is a fiction editor and book writing coach working with independent authors and new authors seeking representation. Lisa helps emerging authors tune their manuscripts to publishing industry standards and craft commercial fiction that resonates with readers. Find her at Lisa Poisso, follow her on Twitter at @LisaPoisso, or like her on Facebook. This guest post originally appeared on Lisa’s site.

As an emerging author, you may be frustrated to discover that you shouldn’t follow the lead of experienced authors when it comes to your editing budget and saving money on editing. The editing needs of seasoned authors are much different from those of new authors. Writers at earlier stages of their careers need strong developmental guidance; no amount of copyediting spit and polish will keep readers turning the pages of a lackluster story.

Yet content editing (also known as developmental editing) is the most expensive type of editing. I see you doing the math in your head: The most expensive kind of editing is the most important kind to get for the authors who have the least money to spend and the smallest chance of directly recouping that investment. It’s an unavoidable process. The better the editing you get in the early stages of your career, the more you’ll learn about writing and revision and the faster your story crafting and writing skills will level up.

In the meantime, you’re not without alternatives. Effective ways to save money on editing are well within your reach at every stage of your writing career, which helps you afford the editorial services that benefit you the most.

1) Tell editors your budget up front

Don’t blindly fish for rates and bids when contacting prospective editors. Tell them your budget range right up front, and then send them your manuscript so they can assess your editing needs. Would a manuscript evaluation be a good alternative to a content edit for your book? Is your manuscript strong enough to go straight to substantive editing? Get a sample assessment and talk with your editor.

2) Turn in clean copy

Most editors don’t have set rates for their services; they base their quotes on how much work they’ll have to do to your copy and how long that will take. The sloppier your manuscript is, the higher your editing rate will be. So read through your final draft several times to save money on editing. Run spellcheck. Try a service like Grammarly or EditMinion.

3) Develop your writing skill

If you shrug off the hard work of revisions and rely on an editor to tie up every dangling plot thread and dangling participle, you consign yourself to higher editing rates for the duration of your writing career. Don’t laugh off your errors and leave them for the editor to catch. Learn your business. Hone your craft.

4) Schedule your edits early

Three to six months isn’t too soon to begin finding the right editor you’d like to work with. If you want to work with the kind of editor who applies multiple review processes to your copyedit and thoughtful deliberation to your content edit, you don’t want an editor who’ll return your manuscript in a week. And sure, you could pay rush fees, but those can run to 100 percent or more of a project’s base fee.

5) Choose the right number of editing rounds

Some editors keep costs low by charging by the editing “round”; once they’ve finished that particular draft (no matter how many “passes” they themselves make during the process), that round is considered complete. Paying by the round could save you money unless you hope to go back and forth with your editor over several revisions. In that case, find out if you’ll get a discount for subsequent rounds (this is how I handle things) or, for editors who offer multiple revision rounds in their base rate, how many rounds are included in the price of the edit.

6) Handle the cleanup yourself

Some editors send the edit to the author for review and approval, then make all the adjustments to the manuscript themselves. While this reduces the potential for error, it raises the cost of the edit. To save money, choose an editor who lets you accept and reject your own edits and do your own post-revision cleanup.

7) Try crowdsourcing your proofreading

Once all the editing is said and done, it’s time for one last check: proofreading. Your editor may provide this service; I do not, because I feel that your manuscript needs a fresh set of eyes at this point in the game. You could hire a professional proofreader, but you may be able to save money on editing by farming this out to eager family and friends who’ve volunteered to help. Keep in mind that you’ll need to carefully vet their recommendations; their knowledge of current grammar, style, and usage or storytelling conventions will not always be on target. Ask your editor about reviewing their suggestions as part of your editing followup or for a very low rate.

8) Don’t waste your resources squeezing a lemon

It has to be said: No amount of line or copy editing can fix a clunker with a lifeless story. If your editor recommends stepping back from a final-stage edit like line editing, take heed. And if you’re not sure whether what you’ve written is ready for prime time—or professional editing—investigate with a more affordable assessment like a new author review or a plot checkup.

9) Look for package pricing

Remember that advice about cleaning up your copy in order to get a lower rate? Editors can afford to offer lower prices on subsequent editing services because your manuscript will be in better shape after the earlier edits. You’ll save money on editing by taking advantage of editing packages to get more services at lower rates.

10) Once you find an editor you click with, stick with them

Most editors provide special rates, discounts, or scheduling perks to established clients. I offer an established client discount and the ability to pencil in future edits on my schedule without a deposit until another author wants to book the same dates. Stick with your editor for similar insider treatment.

Once upon a time an editor, designer and publicist linked up… Why we started Bookollective

Esther Harris is an Editor and PR with Bookollective

Writing for a living can be a lonely business – you spend your days in your own head, scribbling furtively behind your arm or into a laptop.

Then, when you are finally finished and ready to present something to the world, you need to get out of your head and think product and business – and link up with editors, designers, marketers, publishers, bloggers and social media experts, who can create and keep a buzz around your product. It demands a complete gear change, and it’s one that most authors know they need to attempt, but it can be a daunting prospect.

Who do you go to and where do you start? This is one of the main reasons why we formed Bookollective; to provide a friendly meeting place for writers and providers, as well as a one stop shop of all the creation and promotion related services that authors need to dip into.

Publishers need us as much as individual writers. More and more of our publishing clients were stressing that they wanted their book production and marketing to be more streamlined. With costs ever an issue, and ebooks and the internet posing questions about traditional publishing routes, publishers started to admit: OK,  there ARE other ways of working. We CAN outsource the design and promotion of books and get quality without the overhead.

It’s encouraging to be needed and the response to our services has been extremely positive. However, first and foremost this is about creating a creative community who can help one another – one, big ‘book collective’.

Our launch was held at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road on 2nd December and there was a fantastic atmosphere as traditional publishers from PanMac mixed with people from the indies like Canelo, bloggers, writers, printers, book coaches and more. And of course it wouldn’t be a writers’ event worth its salt if someone didn’t take a punt and hand over their completed, unsolicited first ever manuscript. These rookie crime writers got lucky – there happened to be a crime publisher among the group and they picked his brains for a good thirty minutes!

These opportunities are what it is all about. Many of us know that conversation and who you know and contacts are all vital in this industry – they each help you take a step towards the path of being a better known author or a better informed author. The event was such a success that we plan for it to be a quarterly occasion and the next one will be held in the week of the London Book Fair.

And of course, forming Bookollective is a step taken by freelancers to help each other too. Aimee, Helen and I have all freelanced separately for many years, in the same industry, offering complimentary services – but working alone. The time felt right to pool our collective resources, lean on each other and help each out to see if we could grow something that was bigger than the sum of its parts. We look forward to helping many of you on your journey as we help each other on ours.

Email: hello@bookollective.com

Site: www.bookollective.com

Twitter: @bookollective

Startup Snapshot: Writers Boon

1) What exactly is Writers Boon?

Writers Boon is a free, all-powerful platform that helps authors navigate the publishing and marketing maze, connects them with trusted resources, and saves them money by featuring offers, deals and discounts. The platform is built with Oracle technology, the world’s number one database solutions provider. Writers Boon counts about 260+ topics and 400 trusted professionals, all with exceptional reviews.

2)  What problem does it solve?

  • Writers Boon offers a well-organized outline of publishing and marketing tips and info that serve as a blue print for action. No more hacking your way through hundreds of websites. Save time and brainpower.
  • We don’t only connect authors with top-notch experts. We do more than that. We have the most useful DIY Tools & Apps for writers.  And if you want to learn more on any topic, you only need to look under our How-To Guides.
  • Best of all, we feature deals and discounts on publishing and marketing products and services. So now you get the best at the best price. Think of us as Groupon for the writers’ community.

3) Who is your target market?

On the writers’ side, bloggers and aspiring or experienced authors of fiction and non-fiction books. On the vendors’ side, the best publishing and marketing experts and designers of tools & apps for writers.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

Well, I do hope with all my “author heart” that it will provide real help to all the wonderful authors out there who brighten up our days, some of them at the beginning of their writing journey, others trying to come to grips with book marketing opportunities.

5) What will be next for Writers Boon?

My vision is for Writers Boon to become the authors’ premier information source. Whether they are aspiring or experienced writers of fiction and non-fiction books, whether they want to find the best quotes generator tools, the best writing retreats, or whether they are looking for the best deal on writing software, now they know on Writers Boon they can find everything and everyone they need.

Carol Vorvain is a lawyer, author and founder of Writers Boon, the newest, most comprehensive platform for writers. Her books, When Dreams are CallingWhy not? – The island where happiness starts with a question and  A Fool in Istanbul – The adventures of a self-denying workaholic have been featured in a number of travel magazines including the International Traveller magazine and can be found in libraries, bookstores and on Amazon.

Authors marketing

When it comes to supporting authors in marketing efforts, no publisher has it right yet

It is my firm conviction that the biggest shortcoming of traditional publishers these days is their failure to help authors help themselves with digital marketing. In my opening remarks at Digital Book World earlier this month, I said this:

At the very least, every house should do a “digital audit” for every author they sign that includes concrete suggestions for filling in gaps and improving discoverability and engagement. To my knowledge, not one does.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that there are people in big houses, even some who view things from a high perch, who emphatically don’t agree with me. One senior executive told me I was “completely wrong”, and said their editors were very much up to speed with what authors do on social media. Another, a publisher from a different house, asked me if I really believed “landing pages were important”. Of course, if you don’t see the pay-off from creating and managing landing pages on an author’s website (or the publisher’s own!), you might make the mistake of thinking a robust social media presence obviates the need for an author website.

That is a mistake. And it is an increasingly common one.

Where publishers are going wrong

Citing the expertise of editors as the lead claim for a house’s expertise is a tip-off. I have never seen the publishing house where editors were more expert in digital marketing than marketers are. Most author websites are sub-standard but most editors don’t have the knowledge to know that. And, on top of that, neither editors nor authors fully understand the different roles of websites and social media in the marketing effort for a book and author.

If the feedback from these two executives were exceptional or unusual, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But it is typical. And both of these houses are making substantial investments to upgrade their digital understanding and performance. They don’t have their heads in the sand.

It isn’t just my imagination that there is a disconnect between big publishers and their authors on the digital marketing front. This shortcoming is real and it is going to really hurt the big publishers, far beyond the sales they’re losing, if they don’t fix it.

I recently tested this idea with one of the most digitally-ept literary agents. I asked him whether he agreed that publishers are failing in this regard. He did. Completely.

A gap to fill

If there’s a gap here, somebody is going to fill it. Just this week, the relatively-new Diversion Books announced a new initiative called Radius, a “full-service publishing services division” with distribution through their affiliation with Ingram. They are targeting “non-fiction authors with very specific and known audiences (consultants, experts in a field)” looking for help “with various aspects of the process–editorial, cover, production, marketing and publicity etc.”

In other words, they would like to partner with perhaps the most desirable category of non-fiction authors: those with a real marketing platform independent of any book publishing activities. Those authors often have pretty decent personal marketing already set up; if they don’t, they are delighted to have professional feedback about how to improve it. Radius will provide a powerful reason for those self-promoting authors to work with them rather than with an older and more established house.

It is worth noting that Diversion was founded by a literary agent, so it is highly sensitive to the author perspective. What they have built is essentially a customized front end to industrial-strength services provided by Ingram, with easy access even for individual authors through what is called Ingram Spark. Diversion is a new-era publisher. They created a service arm and community called EverAfter to serve romance authors; Radius will primarily serve non-fiction authors who have already built audiences. Undoubtedly, other entrepreneurs will build on-ramps to these Ingram capabilities for other segments of the author community.

Should publishers worry about this? Well, the ones who depend on authors can expect more and more services and fledgling publishers trying to make a more appealing offer to them. (And those that don’t depend on authors exist, but they are the exception, not the rule.)

Who should do what

The author platform question is further vexed by the way publishers are organized. Editors “own” the author and agent relationships. Marketers and/or sales departments “own” the marketing resources. To be good at their jobs, editors need to recognize commercial content, negotiate the many moving parts of a book deal, and help the author craft the most salable possible book. Knowing digital marketing or best practices for search engine optimization are not what editors are hired or trained for. Those are the bailiwick of marketers who are explicitly (in most houses) excluded from direct author contact.

Beyond that, there is the confusion in publishing houses, reflected in the question I got about landing pages, about what’s important and what’s not. I can’t tell how widespread this is, but I have heard too often for comfort that “author websites are a waste of time”, that social is more important, and that working Facebook effectively obviates the need for a web presence.

In fact, “search” is still the single most important component of discovery and author websites are crucial for Google to “know” who the author is and to have a contextual understanding of their expertise and their audience. Precisely how the website provides value depends on the author. For a non-fiction author, it can establish topic authority. For a multiple-title fiction author, it can provide definitive information for the order of books in a series or for the back story on the author’s characters (whose names, of course, can be important search terms for the book).

But what is always true is that the website is the one piece of digital real estate the author can actually own, which is not subject to some change in rules or process that will affect its discovery in search or the ability to use it for any purpose of the author’s choosing. Ideally, a publishing house will evaluate an author’s own website as part of an overall digital audit and make constructive suggestions for improving it. If the author doesn’t have one, the house should provide a simple placeholder site that gives fans a place to land or link and can be the ultimate authority of facts about the author and the book.

And only by controlling a website can an author or publisher control the single most powerful tool there is to promote an author through search: landing pages. Best practice is to optimize a landing page on the author’s site for each of the most commonly-searched terms that could lead to real interest or the sale of a book. Anybody who really knows SEO knows that. That’s why the failure to grasp the significance of landing pages high up in a big publishing house is so disturbing.

Collaborating with authors

It really is terrific that so many publishers these days have a high-level executive with the word “audience” in their title and job description. It is a sign of real progress that many of the big houses have invested in vertical sites to build audiences they can tap at any time.

But they’re still missing the most important boat. The real focus needs to be on marketing collaboration with authors and giving them the support they need to maximize their effectiveness. Doing that requires tackling a lot of tricky questions because authors own their names and careers and publishers, at best, have a long lease on one or more specific books they’ve written. But both book sales and author retention depend on publishers taking on this challenge as an essential component of their offering.

I did a post for BookMachine some months ago spelling out a strategy for authors who were marketing themselves.

The author marketing checklist

  • Here’s a quick checklist of what a useful publisher audit of an author’s digital footprint might be looking for:
  • A robust author website to anchor an author’s complete digital presence and act as the central hub and source of authoritative information on everything about the author, her books, her work, and life
  • Complete author and book information at book cataloging and community sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing, as well as at all online retailers (especially an Amazon Author Central page)
  • Google+ to signal to Google who an author is, what she writes about, and all of the things connected to her
  • The right social media mix, which can vary — and evolve — depending on the author, the type of books she writes, and the interests and demographics of her audiences
  • Mechanisms to collect, manage, and effectively use email addresses
  • Ongoing efforts to maintain accuracy and relevance across all of these
  • Effective cross-promotion (across titles and authors)

Mike Shatzkin has been in publishing since 1962. Since 1979, Mike has been an independent consultant (The Idea Logical Company) with clients that have included most major publishers in the US and UK, retailers including Barnes & Noble and Borders, wholesalers including Ingram, and a host of tech startups. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeShatzkin. This post was originally posted on The Idea Logical Company blog in March 2016.

barlow books freelance

Author-pays publishing: Sarah Barlow Scott interview

Sarah Barlow Scott is the founder of Barlow Books, a team of freelance editors, and experts in design, production and marketing. The team run their our own businesses but work together in a new business model, providing everything from planning the book to distributing and marketing the final product. Here Norah Myers interviews her.

1) Please explain the idea behind Barlow Books. What makes it different from traditional publishing and other author services that are already available?

Barlow Books uses freelance editors and designers from traditional publishing. Like the traditional publishers, we have sales and distribution deals to get books into stores in Canada and the U.S. Unlike traditional publishers, we ask authors to pay up front for all services. In return they get 100% of revenues from the sale of books to readers.

2) What about this model appeals to you as an editor?

Authors get top-of-the-line editing and design at the same level they might expect from a traditional publisher. But if they’re prepared to invest in their books, they don’t have to wait and hope for a big publishing deal. 

3) How do you see this model fitting into the future of publishing?

It’s an important opportunity for those who have a mission, and want to get the word out via a professionally produced book, or for those who care about their brand, and don’t want to undercut it with a sloppily produced book.

4) What sorts of clients fit well with this model?

Authors with a mission. Authors who care about their brand. People on the speaking circuit who want to increase the number and value of their speeches.

5) What happens if you receive a manuscript that you think will be very successful, but the author can’t afford the fees?

We suggest the author raise the money, just as filmmakers do. Kickstarter and other crowd funders are a good place to start.

6) What advice would you give editors looking to work with this model?

We use top of the line book editors, people who have edited dozens of books for major publishers. We pay well. Contact me if you’re interested in working with us. I’m at sarah@barlowbooks.com.

Independent thinking: Designing covers for self-publishers

You’ve finished! There it is, your first novel. Phew. Now it’s the easy bit, right? Just self-publish it and its ‘Kindle Million Club, here we come’….

Wrong, but this is the thought process that many self-publishing authors still have. The successful independent authors I know all have one thing in common – they hire professionals, and they listen to them. And for us professionals, it means becoming something else – a guide.

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On writing, marketing and self-publishing: Julia Roberts interview

Julia Roberts is a TV presenter and author. Julia has been working for QVC since its launch in 1993 and had her first book, the memoir One Hundred Lengths of a Pool, was published by Random House in 2013. Earlier this year, Julia self-published her first novel, Life’s a Beach and Then …. This formed the first book in the Liberty Sands Trilogy and she is currently writing the second. Here Stephanie Cox interviews her about writing, marketing and self-publishing.

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