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Writing and Publishing

The Third Error of Self-Publishing: A Lackluster Title

In past posts, we’ve covered the importance of content and cover. The next element is the book title.

People browsing books (be it online or in a bookstore) generally look at the cover first. If the cover grabs their attention, then they’ll read the title. If the title reinforces the cover or further interests them, then they’ll consider the book itself.

The other way people select a book is by scanning titles (be it by keyword or a list within a category). The title must capture their attention: making the book’s content clear, being provocative or intriguing, or demanding additional consideration. If the title does one of these things, then they’ll see if the cover reinforces the book title. If so, they’ll give the book more consideration.

However, a lackluster title will end their deliberation; they’ll move on to the next title. Don’t let a weak, confusing, or unmemorable book title get in the way of someone making a purchase.

You’ve worked hard on your book; work even harder on its name. After all, the book title contains the most important words of your entire book.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.



Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

The Second Error of Self-Publishing: A Lousy Cover

Last week, I said that the primary error of self-publishing is poor content. The second error, almost as critical, is a lousy book cover. People do, quite literally, judge a book by its cover—and even more so when buying online.

Don’t Make Your Own Book Cover

Unless you make a living designing book covers—or have at least garnered enthusiastic compliments designing covers for others—then you shouldn’t design your own. Just because you have graphic design software, doesn’t mean you’re qualified to use it—any more than having word processing software makes someone a writer. And don’t tap your family and friends, either—unless they have a portfolio of covers to show you.

While every successful designer, at one time, designed his or her first cover, don’t let it be your cover. Go with a seasoned professional. You can find them online.

Some people will design a cover on spec (which is a controversial subject, but it is an option nonetheless).

Hire a Book Cover Designer

Otherwise, you can hire a cover designer. In picking the right designer from a slew of options, consider their past work. Do you like it? Would you buy that book based on the cover? Does their work fit your genre?

Discount cover designs start at about $100, but $300 to $400 is more typical, with some designers charge upwards of a couple thousand. While you don’t want to pay too much for a great cover, don’t take the cheapest option either. Your book deserves the best possible cover, so don’t be reluctant to pay for it. Your book sales depend on it.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Let’s Make the New Year Your Best Year Yet

We talk about writing books, producing books, and marketing books. Successful writers must do all three. Neglect one element and your book will fail to meet expectations and reach its potential.

Even if you find a traditional publisher they will only handle the second requirement: publishing your book. Unless you are an A-list author they will do little marketing for you and expect you to put forth most of the effort.

And if you self-publish you must master all three: write a great book, produce an excellent product, and sell it effectively. Few authors naturally excel at all three. These are learned skills.

What do you shine at? What do you struggle with? Look at your weak area and commit to improving it this year.

The first step is writing a great book. Without compelling words, the rest doesn’t matter. Not really.

However, writing a great book is just the first step. Next is producing it. This includes careful editing by skilled editors and a professional cover by an experienced designer. I’ve seen otherwise good books fail because of sloppy editing or an amateur cover.

Last, and perhaps most critical, is telling others about your book. We call this marketing. And though some artists think of marketing as the dark side of their craft, it is essential if you want to make money from your book and put food on the table.

Marketing starts with a great website, an email list, and an engaged social media following. Then there are ads, promotions, and pricing strategies.

Whether it’s writing, producing, or marketing, look to round out your skillset for this year and make it your best year ever.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Categories
Writing and Publishing

Your Nonfiction Book is the Ultimate Business Card

If you are a consultant, service provider, or business professional, having a book can become your best form of promotion. A book provides instant credibility, elevating you above the competition who has no book. It becomes a calling card, opening doors and providing opportunities you would otherwise miss.

Your book is the ultimate business card. Learn more from the article “Your Book as Your Business Card: Indie Book Publishing Provides Professionals the Edge.”

Of course, to realize the most from your book as a business card, it must be professional. Business cards run the gambit from homemade cards using your PC printer and perforated stock to four-color glossy works of art with professional graphics and quality printing. The difference is apparent, separating card-carrying market leaders from under-resourced wannabes. Though the homemade version is better than no card, it’s only a marginal improvement.

So, too, published books run the gambit, from homemade cover and self-edited to professionally designed graphics, quality editing, and elegant interior design that ooze competence. While the homegrown book is better than no book, it is only marginally so.

Whether it is a book or a business card, when someone sees it, do you want them to think “Oh no!” or “Oh wow?”

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Five Steps to Write Back Cover Copy For Your Book

The purpose of back cover copy is to sell your book. It’s essentially ad copy, a pitch to entice people to read your book. You must hook the reader, telling them enough to intrigue them without revealing too much.

If your book will be self-published, you need to write the back cover copy yourself. If you’re going with a traditional publisher, then they’ll do it for you, right? Usually, but who knows your book better than you? Who has the most at stake? You.

That’s why you should write your back cover copy. But writing it for your own book is hard. Although it’s only a couple hundred words, it takes hours to do a good job; don’t rush it. It is an art.

Here are five steps to writing back cover copy:

1) Research:

  • Start at a bookstore or library. Focusing on either fiction or nonfiction, according to what type of book you wrote, study the back cover blurb on lots of books. Note what you like and don’t like. What causes you to want to read the book? What turns you off? Also notice layouts. Some back covers have an author photo or graphic. Others include short endorsements. These elements leave less space for your blurb, resulting in 150 to 300 words to pitch your book.
  • Next, analyze back cover copy of books you’ve read. Compare what the back cover proclaims to what’s in the book. This provides insight into honing your message and hooking the reader.
  • Then, consider back cover copy of books that will compete against yours, especially the successful ones. This will help you home in on what you need to include in yours.

2) Brainstorm: With your research in hand block out time to brainstorm. Record every idea. Don’t evaluate; just write. For nonfiction, you may get ideas from your thesis sentence, introduction, or conclusion. For all books, consider your elevator pitch.

3) Write and Rewrite: Pick the best ideas and write your first draft. Work on a couple of different angles. Over time, rework these ideas, polishing them into back cover gems.

4) Seek Input: Ask trusted friends (who will give you honest feedback) what they think. How do they react? Would your pitch entice them to read your book? Don’t apply everything everyone tells you; discern which advice to follow.

5) Test Your Results: After applying their input, take the best two blurbs and ask people which one they prefer. This will be your back cover copy. (Save the other versions, content you didn’t use, and your brainstorming session. You will need it later for something else.)

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.