Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Look for Strategic Partners.

They are gold: A couple of my authors have reminded me that you should be on the lookout for strategic partners, which are persons or businesses with a stake in promoting you, your business, or your book. There are various types:

Presentation Partners: If you are in demand as a speaker, the outfit that hires you may wish to distribute your book to the audience. In this case, you offer the event organizer a large quantity of books at a deep discount. The right deal could substitute for your speaking fee. Or not. In any case, you should charge enough to cover your printing and shipping costs plus some profit for you. John Huenefeld, the publishing consultant I followed religiously in the 1990s, did not like to offer more than a 65 percent discount for such purchases. If you are doing a special run of books, you can sweeten the pot by crediting your "co-publisher" within the book in some fashion.

Other Bulk Buyers: If your book is a direct hit with a business or a nonprofit, the entity may wish to distribute your book in quantity even when you are not speaking to them. Go for it.  

Publishers: While traditional publishers usually take the lead in reaching out to bulk buyers and co-publishers, you can approach a traditional publisher as your co-publisher. In this case, you remain the publisher and your partner (who happens to be a traditional publisher) buys hundreds of books from you at a 65 percent discount and gets credit as a co-publisher. Why would they do this? First, they want your book. Second, this may be the only way they can get your book. Or third, they may prefer the opportunity to spend, let's say, $3,500 for 500 books instead if $20,000 to develop and pay for a much larger press run. 

Other Benefactors: Not every strategic ally will be a book buyer. For example, one of my students is a professional landscape photographer who wanted to take photographs of a photogenic site with limited access to the public. She was able to gain access by offering the use of her photos, to be taken at the site, to the organization responsible for protecting the area. Now she has a stake in promoting the organization, and the organization has a stake in promoting her work.The Publishing Pro

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to Write a Book

It takes discipline: I spend most of my time trying to teach my customers how to be authors rather than writers. The distinction, you'll learn if you hang around me long enough, is that authors are all about the extrovert aspect of publishing (relating to their audience) and writers are all about the introvert aspect of publishing (creating the work). Great authors are not necessarily great writersand vice versa. Some time ago, I noticed that people who write booksespecially fictiontend to enjoy the writing but be a bit intimidated by the authoring. I chose to focus on that. Besides, consultants and coaches like Molly Wingate were available to help make the writing happen. 

Still, it hasn't escaped me that there is a relationship between authoring and writing. And lately, I've noticed that my "authors" can get plenty hung up on the "writing." Rookie writers often get lost in the process (or lack thereof) or worry their writing to death.

It is easy to get lost in the forest of writing. It's a right-brained activity that will take you from tree to tree, and soon you will have no idea where you've been or where you are going. Professional writers give themselves some structure, which will allow their creative juices to flow without taking them down paths to oblivion. A good structure has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The Beginning

I teach my customers to plan and visualize their books before they start writing. This initial process includes the following steps:
  • Define your core reader.
  • Define your message.
  • Define how you will changer your reader's life. 
  • Invent a working title and subtitle that suggest your core reader and your promise. 
  • Write your table of contents.
  • Determine your specs (trim size, number of pages, number of words, etc.)
This is the opposite of the all-too-common strategy of sitting down to write and letting your computer fingers take you to who knows where. If you follow my advice, you know your destination before you sit down to write. You might have some surprises along the way, but you'll always be able to find your way home.

The Middle

The next phase is to begin writing the book. Professional writers will follow some variation of the steps below:
  • Write an outline or summary. (Essentially, you map out your story.)
  • Write your first draft. (Do this as a freewrite. Keep self-editing to a minimum.)
  • Write your second draft. (Focus on the content, not wordsmithing; eliminate chunks that don't work; add missing pieces.)
  • First edit. (Fine tune your content. Get your characters, story, and information the way you want them.)
  • Second edit. (Your content should be in place. Now focus on your writing.)

The End

  • Get your manuscript copy edited. (Ordinarily, this is not something you should do yourself, though you should get the edited manuscript and amend it your satisfaction. The copy edit should not be about your content. It should be about polishing your words and making your grammar, punctuation, and capitalization correct, and consistent.)
  • Get your pages proofed (first pass). You should read your proofs, but you should get two others (preferably) to proofcheck the pages for you. This is not editing. It is checking for errors. 
  • Get your pages proofed (second pass). Same as above, but it would be good to have two different  proofcheckers.
  • Approval for printing. Do this yourself. All you need to do (if you have gotten good proofchecking) is to make sure that the errors from the second proof were corrected. You should be done. 
The Publishing Pro

How to Publish Your Own Children's Book

Second edition now available: Publishing your own children's book was rather daunting, financially and otherwise, when I wrote How to Publish Your Own Children's Book ten years ago. Thanks to print-on-demand, ebooks, and easy access to distribution channels, it is much easier. I updated the book with that in mind. You can order it directly from The Publishing Pro or from Amazon. This is for the paperback. The ebook will come later.