Just Because You Can Self-Publish a Book Doesn’t Mean You Should

As the price barrier to book publishing lowers, too many books show up with too little quality

Just Because You Can Self-Publish a Book Doesn’t Mean You ShouldI just read a self-published book by a “NY Times Best-Selling Author.” I’ll let him remain anonymous. It was a short story anthology of “the best” short stories in a certain genre. I expected much and received little.

Perhaps I focus too much on flash fiction (short stories under 1,000 words). Possibly I read too many YA (young adult) books to appreciate writing that is more “serious.” It could be I lack patience. Or maybe I don’t know how to truly appreciate short stories. But just possibly this collection is not all that good, certainly not “the best.” read more>>

6 Reader Responses to Books

I read a lot of books, but I start more then I complete. Some books just aren’t worth finishing. With so many books waiting for my attention, it makes no sense to waste time reading a book I’ve lost interest in.

Here are six reactions I have when I read a book:

  1. 6 Reader Responses to BooksGive Up: Nothing grabs me. The opening lacks a hook, the first page ends with no reason to turn it, or I grow bored before the first chapter finishes. I stop reading and reject the book. read more>>

How Not to Write a Nonfiction Book

How Not to Write a Nonfiction BookA friend, who is also a prolific reader, once shocked me. Talking about nonfiction books, he said: “I only read the first chapter. Then I page through the rest and stop to read anything that’s interesting.”

My incredulous look encouraged him to explain. “Most nonfiction books pack their entire message into the first chapter. The rest of the book just rehashes it.” While some books warrant a more thorough investigation, he claimed most didn’t. read more>>

What I Learned By Researching Competitive Titles

A common part in many book proposals is a “competitive works” section. I recently researched this for one of my book proposals. What I saw enlightened me.

What I Learned By Researching Competitive TitlesFirst were three books from traditional publishers. They gave me pause. I had to think a bit to determine how my book was different and how it would stand out. This challenged me, but it was a good exercise. Each book was impressive: an attractive cover, nice title, a great concept or theme where the content flowed nicely, and professional editing and formatting. However, I didn’t think about any of these qualities at first. I expected these characteristics. Since they met my expectations, I gave these traits no thought – until I looked at some self-published books. read more>>

7 Reasons Why Books Are Rejected

Having our book rejected stings. Here are seven common reasons why this happens.

1) The Writing Isn’t Ready: Everyone is a new writer at some point. It takes time for our writing to mature, our voice to emerge, and our style to become consistent. Some say this takes 10,000 hours or requires 1,000,000 words before we hit our writing stride. Yes, there are exceptions, but there is truth to these guidelines. Aside from still honing our craft, sometimes our work just isn’t as good as it could be. I suspect every writer encounters this at some point.

2) The Content Needs Improvement: Sometimes the idea or concept (for nonfiction) or the plot or story arc (for fiction) needs more work. It must be expanded, enhanced, or otherwise improved. Sometimes we try to stretch a great article or short story into a book, but there’s just not enough there for it to work.

3) The Work Was Pitched to the Wrong Place: When we pitch our work or idea to an agent or publisher, we need to make sure they are interested in the type of book we have written. A romance publisher will not consider a thriller; a publisher of practical how-to guides will not consider an academic treatise. Agents also specialize in certain genres or types of books. Pitching to the wrong place will insure a quick rejection.

4) The Pitch Fell Short: There are various means to entice an agent or publisher. It may be an elevator pitch, a one-sheet, a query letter, a proposal, or maybe all four. Each one is an opportunity to garner further consideration or a chance to be rejected. Make each pitch be the best it can be. In most instances, we will never get a second chance.

5) The Agent Doesn’t Think He or She Can Sell It: Even when everything aligns, if an agent doesn’t think he or she can sell our book, the agent will not take on the project. Remember, agents only make money when they sell our book to a publisher.

6) The Publisher Already Has a Book Like It: A publisher will not take on a book that is too similar to one they have recently published or an older one that continues to sell.

7) The Author Doesn’t Have a Big Enough Platform: Publishers expect authors to help promote and sell their books. This requires they have a platform or network of sufficient size to do this. A small or nonexistent platform means the author will not be able to move books.

I’ve suffered rejection for six of these seven reasons. Understanding why this might have happened helps us to do better next time and move towards acceptance.

Which one do you struggle with?

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?”

Is your nonfiction book your ultimate business card? Why or why not?

What Do Readers Care About?

When readers consider our book, few will bother to look to see who published it. They won’t care if a major publisher, let alone any traditional publisher, produced it. When it comes to publishers, there is little brand loyalty, let alone much brand recognition. The imprint is of no consequence. How the printed book gets into their hands or the e-book gets into their reader doesn’t matter to them.

Here’s what does matter:

Cover: What they will look at is the cover. They will, in fact, judge our book by its cover. First impressions matter a great deal. read more>>

What Type of Book Will Yours Be?

A couple years ago, my newsletter column for the month was “Six Types of Books in My Library.” In summary, this is how I viewed my books:

  1. Books Worth Keeping: I enjoyed them once, and I’ll read them again.
  2. Reference Materials: Books with information I want to keep.
  3. Books I Plan to Read: I really do intend to read them – someday. read more>>

What Can We Learn From the Used Textbook Market?

The August issue of Book Business had an interesting piece about the textbook industry. The article, “Combating the Higher-Ed Used Book Market,” said that of the $8 billion higher-ed textbook industry, roughly two thirds of the dollars spent is for used books. That’s bad news for the publishers and authors, as neither makes any money when students resell their textbooks.

There are many possible reasons for this, including high cost, books students don’t want in the first place or will never use again, required classes students don’t want to take, required books instructors don’t use, and so on. Another reason is some students must sell their book to help finance the next semester. read more>>

Seven Things to Look For in a Beta Reader

Last week we talked about the importance of beta readers to give feedback on our books. I hope you’re as sold on the idea as I am.

The next step is finding beta readers – not just any one but the right ones. If we pick a beta reader who isn’t a good match, they could do more harm than good, both for our book and for our career.

The ideal beta reader should: read more>>