Book Projects: The Sausage-Making

Book Projects: The Sausage-Making

Lately I’ve been writing a few blog posts about my background and life experiences, some of which may be of interest to my readers. Today I’m going back to talking about books a bit, but I think this topic may interest both fellow writers and non-writers.

Of course, I’m referring to how a book is made. Hence the title, Book Projects: The Sausage-Making. (By the way, I had a heck of a time finding an image to go with this post. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 30 years, and that image of sausagesoof. It doesn’t exactly make my mouth water, but whatever.)

 

The Internals

First, I’ll get into a short overview of what I call the internals. These are matters more related to the manuscript than the actual physical book. And it goes without saying that every book should be professionally edited and proofread, so that’s a discussion for another time.

1) Copyright – Once you commit something to paper or hard drive, you own the copyright to that work. Unlike most other internals, you don’t really need to worry about this until closer to your publication date, though I understand some writers apply for copyright on books that are nowhere near completion. Either way is fine. 

2) The Manuscript (Duh) – Yes, you don’t have a book unless you’ve got a manuscripteither you write it, or pay someone else to write it.

3) ISBN – Your ISBN numbers are crucial, as they are the unique identifiers for ebooks and hard copies. ISBN is actually an abbreviation for International Standard Book Number. If you publish your own books, I strongly recommend buying a block of ISBNs from Bowker. Different versions of the same book have unique ISBNs. For mine, I used three: one for the paperback version, one for the ebook available via Amazon, and one for the ebook available via all other channels (Apple, Barnes, and so on).

4) CIP Data Block – CIP stands for Cataloging In Publication. A publisher can choose to purchase a CIP data block from a company such as The Donohue Group. The information conveyed in the CIP data block is used by librarians to catalogue an item properly. It’s safe to say that an advance publisher’s copy of a book will not be accepted by a library without a CIP data block.

 

The Externals

So you’ve written a great manuscript, it’s been polished, edited, proofread, and you’ve got all the above items in place for publication. Now what?

There are still three major issues to consider: cover design, interior design, and the particulars of the book’s size, paper type, and cover finish.

1) Cover Design – When your book is near completion, you can start shopping around for designers. You’ll want someone who can handle both ebook and paper versions. Keep in mind, they are professionals with clients already on the calendar. Some will need extra time to read part, or even all, of your book. Some will provide multiple options and multiple revisions. This all takes time. The cover will be your potential readers’ first impression of your work, so it’s crucial. You can see the covers for all my work here.

2) Interior Design – Not all cover designers offer interior design, though some do. The “one-stop-shopping” element of that may prove appealing if they do. My most recent cover, for Whizzers, was designed by Robin Vuchnich, who also created the interior design of the book. She was able to incorporate her design into the chapter headers, which made for a much more appealing internal look. In total, she designed the cover for both the ebook and paperback versions, as well as the interior design for both. I was very pleased with the results.

3) Book Size, Paper Type, & Cover Type – Your book’s size is directly related to the genre or type of book. For my paperbacksall of which are novelsI decided to go with the classic 6 X 9, which is actually 5.5 X 8.5 inches. It’s not a pocket book, but it’s not too large either.

Paper type is another matter: do you want acid-free, cream-colored paper? That will cost you a little more for printing, but the product will look just as good as any paperback in a store.

And finally, the cover finish, which is either glossy or matte. Like photos, the glossy cover will be shiny. You might love that, but remember, it won’t photograph well if anyone uses a flash. Matte is flatter but, to my mind, looks more elegant; however, it may scuff up more easily than glossy. Before publishing, I watched a YouTube video about the pros and cons of each, but I recommend going to the local bookstore and comparing and contrasting them. I thought I’d prefer glossy, and it turns out I much prefer matte.

That’s about it for the sausage-making process. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Book Launch Time: The Biggest Day In A Writer’s Life

Book Launch Time: The Biggest Day In A Writer’s Life

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been posting ideas with the intention of providing a service to my fellow authorsin particular, those new to the publishing game.

Anyone familiar with my work most likely knows about my most recent novel, Whizzers, and for a couple reasons. First, I’ve been promoting it since well before the book launch, which was July 2019. But secondly, and probably more importantly, I wrote extensively about the launch process itself, both beforehand and afterwards.

 

Not Just A Sales Job

Of course, the difficulty with a book launch of any sort is that you don’t want to sell to potential readers. No one likes to have friends, relatives, or, especially, strangers pushing a book on them. But you have to let people know the thing is coming out, and a launch event is one of many ways to do it.

For my Whizzers launch event, I took a multifaceted approach: yes, I did my best to enroll folks familiar with my previous books, and in some cases that worked. But I also reached out to reviewers, book bloggers, friends, networking connections, social media…you name it.

And I took on what I think is the most important strategy for a successful launch—giving my launch team and street team something they couldn’t get anywhere else.

 

Be Open, Be Flexible

If you’ve got a book launch coming up, even your first book, I’d recommend social media guru Frances Caballo’s interview with me about the success of the Whizzers launch. You can find that here.

I’d also refer folks back to a post I wrote about the difference between launch teams and street teams, which has many great ideas I’ve passed on from the Book Marketing Tools website.

Above all, though, I’d encourage my fellow writers to stay open to new ideas and be flexible in your approach. The online environment is dynamic, constantly evolving, and there’s a lot to all this stuff—probably more than you or I will ever know. Find what works for you, do your best, and leave the results to your readers.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

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How Do You Sell A Book in the Digital Age? Market, Market, Market

How Do You Sell A Book in the Digital Age? Market, Market, Market

“I need a steam shovel, mama, to keep away the dead / I need a dump truck, baby, to unload my head.”

Bob Dylan

 

Sometimes these days we all feel like the guy in today’s photo, right? A head full of booksboth paper and electronicand a million tasks that need our attention right now. Who has time to market a book?

But you know what? That’s exactly what you have to do, whether you’re an indie author or traditionally published. No one is going to do it all for you. That’s just not the way the business works anymore.

Over the past few weeks, I published a video series called From Manuscript to Publication. The first three parts were about editing, proofreading, cover design and interior design.

This week’s video will be all about marketing, though. And it stands to reason I know a bit about this topic, since I’ve earned most of my living as a writer since 2001 doing what’s known as marketing writing.

 

Marketing in a Glutted Market

I’m a creative, so I’m always wanting to make something. Thing is, people don’t always want to pay you for what you’ve made, so you do what you have to do to earn a living. Hence, the marketing writing trajectory.

The good news is that when you spend much of your time creating content designed to make sales, you learn a little about how to create similar content for your own stuff. You learn how to market to readersyour readers.

And when it comes to marketing in a glutted market like today’s, where thousands of new books come out every day, you learn something invaluable. Recognizing the importance of different strategies is priority number one in setting up your book’s marketing plan.

You can do a lot of things, but here are a couple I’ve found crucial in marketing my own stuff:

 

1) Take a targeted approach, not a scattershot one. Not everyone is your reader. Talk to your readers, not everyone’s readers.

2) Use different strategies. I have my monthly newsletter; a GeniusLink for my latest book which gets almost 1K clicks per month; and a social media management software. And that’s just for starters!

 

If you’re new to the publishing world and have some questions, let me know in the comments below. And if you’re a seasoned professional who would like to add your two cents about book marketing, I welcome your comments, too!

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