Archive for the ‘Publishers Weekly’ Category

A Glimpse into Book Cover Design

June 26, 2007

After interviewing hundreds of book authors for many years, you’d be surprised how frequently these authors want to tell me how much they dislike the cover of their latest book. Or they will tell me how the book title wasn’t the one that they would have selected. Inside when I hear these stories I shake my head and feel like shaking the author and saying, “Get over it and move on and be excited about what you have in front of you.” It doesn’t make a good impression on the journalist about this part of the publishing process.

Many years ago, one of my high-profile authors strongly disliked his book cover photo. The dislike carried into his eagerness to promote this particular title. Before too many months, this book faded out of print.

On the positive side of book cover design, Roy Peter Clark wrote “Judge My Book by Its Cover” in the June 18th Publishers Weekly. The article points out a simple truth: ideally the cover designer reads the book and gets in sync with the author and publisher about the vision for the book audience. It’s a good piece and I recommend you read it.

What the printed article does not show is Clark’s book cover for Writing Tools. I have not read this book but I’m familiar with Clark’s work at Poynter Online. Here’s a list of his 50 writing tools and articles. Here’s where he podcasts about these writing tools. It’s a rich resource and every writer can gain something from Clark’s Writing Tools.

Each Day Do A Little Bit

June 19, 2007

About ten years ago, I ghost wrote a daily radio program for a bestselling author. They were short pithy daily reminders for the listener which were one-minute in length. This author recorded the programs and sent them to radio stations around the country who played them for free since they fell into the Public Service Announcement category (PSA). I wrote over 300 of these programs and provided a steady stream of material going out to the radio community and reminding the listening audience about this author. It was a simple and effective strategy. I don’t know if the program continues today or not. This daily challenge is a powerful tool. My question today is: Are you incorporating some daily action into your life to build your writing career or boost your latest book?

The June 11th issue of Publishers Weekly used Christopher Lee Nutter’s article in the Soapbox Column called Author, Media Savant. While his book is a year old (ancient in terms of most publicity), he is “still on book tour” and a smart author who understands the necessity of continual publicity about his book.

This section was particularly insightful about how magazines and newspapers handle galley copies of new books, “It is true that my 13 years working as a writer and editor at magazines and newspapers has made me savvy. I’ve been on the other end of the pitch, so I know how to craft one. I also know that most book PR departments simply hurl galleys blindly at the media, using generic lists of publications and dated lists of editors, letting the galleys fall where they may–which is usually on the giveaway table. Countless times I surveyed the cemetery of galleys headed to their early graves, and determined to avoid this destiny at all costs. So way before I ever even met my publicist, I decided to take responsibility for my book’s publicity.” (I added the emphasis on this last sentence.)

Later in the article, Nutter gives this great attitude, “It’s a lot of work and uncertainty, no doubt about it. But it’s worth it. I love my book, and I didn’t write it for no one to hear about. While it’s true that I can’t make people buy the book, I can make sure they’ve heard of it.”

With the sheer volume of new books entering the market daily, it’s entirely possible that many people have never heard of you or your book. Nor have these people heard of me or my books. For example, my Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success has been in print for over two years. And new people continue to discover it and use it to accomplish their own publishing dreams. I’m grateful whenever they find it.

Each day, I continue to do little things which spread the word about my book. Here’s a couple of ideas for you readers of these entries on the Writing Life:

1. Join my affiliate program which is free and takes minutes to fill out the form. But don’t just join the program. You need to take the next step and begin using your own affiliate link in emails and banner ads on your websites. Why? Because as people click those banners or emails, if they come to my landing page and purchase the book, then you receive an email of notification (and I do as well). Here’s the great news: after the 60 day guarantee period, I send you 50% of the commissions–for any of my products. For example, with Book Proposals That Sell in the ebook format, that means $19.50 each time someone buys it that you have led to the site. There are even greater payments with other products such as Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets.

2. Use my free articles in your own newsletter or website. I’ve got these articles for anyone to use them so feel free–and I do have plans to add to them.

Take your long-range goal and put it into smaller pieces and attack it every day. Some of your efforts will begin to reap rewards.

Controlled Success

February 27, 2007

Some days as I slug along in the trenches of publishing, I believe I could enjoy a bit more success if it came my direction. I know success is all in how you define it. Through my years in publishing I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people and have some terrific opportunities. The projects continue to come and I’m grateful for each experience.

In past posts, I’ve mentioned the final page of Publishers Weekly called Soapbox. They have different industry people give their perspective on some part of book publishing. Often I learn something and find it fascinating. February is African American Month. Several years ago I wrote a book which released in this month called Running On Ice by Vonetta Flowers, the first African American to win a Gold Medal in the Winter Olympics. In the February 19th issue of PW, Curt Matthews, CEO of Chicago Review Press Inc wrote the Soapbox column titled “A Killer Bestseller.”

How could a bestseller be a killer? It’s one of the rarely explained aspects of publishing–at least to authors. Every author assumes they finally write a great book and it lands on the bestseller list (which is often an orchestrated miracle). Then the author figures their book sells and sells. As Matthews explains in this short article, the publisher has to control their enthusiasm and success. I’m talking about the print runs for your book. If the publisher grows heady and unwise about how many books are moving out of their warehouse into the bookstores, they print too many copies. What happens when these books don’t sell after a certain period and are returned? The returns can be a killer to a publisher–even from a bestseller. While it’s not reported in the press, it happens. The supply chain is a delicate dance. You want it to be full so no one runs out of books yet you don’t want to print too many and get stuck with the returns.

These types of book controls are happening throughout the publishing industry and someone in each publishing house is monitoring these numbers–at least if they want to have a killer bestseller on their hands. Most authors are oblivious to this important part of the process.

In April, the American Society of Journalists and Authors will have our annual conference. Jeanette Walls, author of the bestselling memoir called The Glass Castle, is our keynote speaker for the large Saturday gathering at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. As usual, I’ve ordered Walls’ book and plan to read it before the event. Checking different sources on, I bought my book from Wal-Mart (a first time experience for me with books through their online site). This morning I received an email informing me The Glass Castle is backordered and they are trying to get this situation resolved as soon as possible. I admire that Wal-Mart had a system in place to tell me this information but as a first-time customer, my experience isn’t going too well for future orders. It depends on how quickly they are able to resolve it. I suspect this backorder has something to do with the exact subject discussed in A Killer Bestseller.