Book Covers 101 –

Guy Kawasaki’s new book A.P.E. (Author, publisher, entrepreneur) is a must-read for all authors. He covers important steps in detail to help authors make the right choices and avoid costly mistakes.

In this blog post below he give the high points for creating a good book cover.


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What comes first, your book or your author platform?

Ideally you should be building your author platform prior to the launch of your book. Unfortunately, most authors are consumed with the book writing process then the manuscript polishing, editing, formatting, book cover design, etc.

Once you have clarity about your book, whether it’s the plot for your fiction novel or the message of your fiction book, you should start immediately and simultaneously building your author platform. You can begin to build the “buzz” you need in your target readership and ramp up interest and hopefully sales prior to the launch.

So what is an author platform? Briefly (because this will be cover in subsequent posts) it’s your branding as an author and the branding for your book. You should have the following:

– Website – 5 pages, about you the author, about your book, media page, order page, contact form page. You can add additional pages for example, a integration page for your blog.

– Social media venues – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and your blog just to name a few. You might consider adding a YouTube account for your book trailer or for informational videos you may wish to produce.

*Social media is a powerful tool for new authors. The cost is nil and your time is the biggest investment.

I love this quote from Dan Poynter’s book, Successful Nonfiction

“Writing a book is a creative act.
A finished book is a product.
Selling a book is a business.”

Quick Tip: Once you have your title and subtitle selected, get a front cover designed. You can use the graphic of your front cover to promote your book on your website, in Facebook posts, Tweets and in your signature line for emails. Start building that brand!

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There’s No Right Way to Write a Book

I always speak with people at the events I attend about writing books. So many people have “books” in their heads but don’t know where to start! I understand! Writing the book is the hardest part of the whole publishing process!

There’s really no correct way to write a book because each author’s mind works differently. My mind works best in outline form. I can draft logical steps for projects and create a chapter outline for books this way. Some author’s prefer a free form of mind mapping. I’ve used mind mapping successfully too. On especially difficult projects mind mapping gives me the “big picture” of a project or what a book might entail. From there I can create the outline format to follow. Either way, just get the information on the page!

At first don’t stress over format, just get those thoughts out and written down. They don’t even have to be in any logical order or flow. Just capture them. You can assemble them later into a flow that makes sense.

There are some wonderful free mind mapping applications on the internet, just Google “Free mind mapping software.” There are applications for your smart phone as well that are cloud based so you don’t have an excuse not to work on your book.

Or go old school, grab a pen and a piece of paper and start drawing!




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Advice For Authors from Seth Godin

Seth Godin founder of the Domino Project offers sage advice to authors and aspiring author in this blog post –

Worth the quick read.

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Writing Resolutions

As I do every year I make a slew of resolutions. Some actually stick, some just dissolve instantly. My biggest goal this year to make my writing a priority. I have had a hiatus of sorts last year due to circumstances that got out of control (that’s another blog post). So this year I’m back on track, blogging, Tweeting and sharing my knowledge with authors once again.

I have kept a journal since 1973 so writing has been an integral part of my daily life. I have missed it so. I’ve begun to get back into daily writing slowly but now it’s time to set some goals. My overall resolution for writing in 2013 is “Just Do It!” and below are my goals to achieve this:

  • Make time every day in my schedule, note it on my calendar, to write. Not just for 5 minutes here or there, but a substantial time commitment of 60 minutes all in one sitting.
  • Always carry a notebook and pen with me (or my tablet or use EverNote from my phone, tablet or laptop) to capture those musings that come flashing through every now and again.
  • To write seriously, meaning not just blog posts, lengthy emails, clever Tweets or Facebook statuses. Something serious like articles for a newsletter, meaty blog posts full of information to share.
  • Set specific goals such as one article per week to share via social media.
  • READ! This has fell by the way last year. I find that if I read I write. I love self-help books, business books, reading new author’s books, even a novel now and then. Anything that gets my keyboard clacking!

By actually carving out time to write, just sitting down and writing anything sometimes, I move closer to creating something meaningful and useful to share.

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Author Beware!

My last post explained the inherit differences between traditional and self-publishing options. I want to give a real life example of the “Author Beware!” title for this post.

I was hired by an author to be a liaison for him and his publisher. I was in awe after just a couple of days of reviewing his contract, seeing the amount of money he had paid and realizing he had been dealing with this publisher for over a year to get book published. Once I stepped in and began to push back on the publisher’s staff he now has a release date for his book in this month (January 2013).

My point here, as an author do your homework, meaning just Google the company. Google “complaints (company name)” and see what happens. My author did this found they had 89 open complaints. Not good.

As an author you need to beware of these things. Don’t waste $30,000 to get a 185 page book printed when you can easily do it as a self-published author for about $6,000 AND still retain all the control, rights and royalties.

Ask for references. Research, do your homework. If you’re too busy, and who isn’t these days, hire someone who can look out for your best interests, an author’s assistant. You will still save money in the long run.

Just as “buyer beware”, “author beware”.

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Traditional Publishing versus Self-Publishing

What you need to know to make your choice. . .

When an author writes a book their end goal is get it published and distributed to their readers. In today’s publishing world there are options. The two most obvious are traditional publishers and self-publishing. Each method contains respective pros and cons.

Traditional publishing

In choosing the traditional publishing method, an author completes his/her manuscript, creates a query letter or proposal, and submits these documents to a publishing house. (If the author is fortunate enough to obtain a literary agent, the agent can do this for them). At the traditional publishing house an editor reads the query letter or proposal and then considers whether the manuscript it is right for the house, and decides either to reject it or publish it. If it is rejected the author is free to offer their manuscript to another publisher or to self-publish it. If the publishing house accepts the manuscript and decides to publish the book, the house buys the rights from the writer and then pays him/her an advance on the future royalties. The publishing house will spend the money to create the book’s design and package and then print as many copies of the book that they will sell. They will market the book and distribute the finished book to the public.


The self-publishing process is a bit different. The author who decides the self-publish method becomes the publisher. The author is then responsible to proofread the final manuscript, put up the money to publish the book and also pay for the camera-ready artwork. Then the author is responsible for marketing and distributing the book, fulfilling orders, and creating and running marketing campaigns. Fortunately with today’s print-on-demand (POD) services the author can decide to print a number of books or print only as many as they need.

Differences between the two


If the author chooses to submit his/her manuscript to a traditional publishing it can take years to become a book. The author might have to pitch the manuscript to several traditional publishing houses before it is picked up. Most traditional publishing houses have a “slush pile” of query letters on their editor’s desks to wade through. If an author has to shop their manuscript to several traditional publishing houses and ultimately end up in several “slush piles” the math means a lot of time waiting for just one publishing house to show interest. Then consider if the publishing house does accept the manuscript, it can easily take up to another year or more before the book is finally produced. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to non-fiction, only fiction. Non-fiction books with timely and relevant topics are likely to be published a little quicker.

If the author chooses self-publishing and depending on the printing company chosen, an author can have a finished book in either hardcover or paperback in their hands within six months. Choosing to create an e-book an author can have this time cut to merely weeks or even days. But again the author will have to pay for these services out-of-pocket.


The caveat to self-publishing is that the author is responsible for paying for all of the services needed to finalize the manuscript and print the book. The author needs to do his/her due diligence when selecting a print-on-demand company to secure the best price and quality possible. However, with a traditional publishing house the author is paid an advance anywhere form few hundred dollars to seven-digit figures. Typically in traditional publishing, the publishing house uses its vast resources, experience, knowledge, contacts, and will vigorously promote the book. In self-publishing the author pays for everything, design, editing, printing, advertising, distribution just to get the book into stores and into reader’s hands. The author is alone in the publishing process. A self-published author needs to have great marketing skills as well. But with self-publishing the major reward for all of the money spent is complete control.


A traditional publishing house has final control over the author’s manuscript. Often a traditional publisher will rewrite portions if not all of the manuscript to make it more acceptable to their publishing style. Or a traditional publisher might refuse to publish a manuscript if they feel it is too controversial, doesn’t fit with their style or because they believe it won’t sell. By self-publishing the author has greater control over the contents, design, and appearance and can market and distribute the book as they choose.

The choice is yours

After having looked at traditional publishing versus self-publishing, the author needs to ask some hard questions about what is best for him/her and their intentions for the book. Is the author willing to play the waiting game in order to possibly receive a large advance from a traditional publisher? Or is control of their manuscript and a faster turnaround more important?

The publishing playing field is being leveled with such resources as POD, the Internet, and online booksellers and bookstores. Authors today truly have more options.

As first published in Book Marketing Magazine.


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