Monthly Archives: January 2011

Three Great Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

How to Regain Inspiration and Finish Writing a Book
Don’t wait until the proverbial creative well runs dry. These simple strategies for overcoming writer’s block can help authors keep the ideas flowing indefinitely.
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What is the best way to finish writing a book? Should writers schedule a chunk of time each day and “force” the story out; or is it best to work only when the mood hits? These are common questions many authors are faced with at the prospect of finishing a book.
The truth is, starting a book is the easy part. The first few paragraphs or chapters can seem to flow out of an author’s mind faster than her hands can type. This is the most enjoyable stage because it stems from “impulsive inspiration” meaning she is writing only when the mood hits. Unfortunately, if that mood doesn’t hit on a regular basis, writer’s block can easily set in.
Creativity is similar to muscularity in that it will begin to atrophy with a lack of regular stimulation. Just as even the finest athletes have those days when they have to dig a bit deeper to find the will to continue on, all writers will experience the same. On that note, the best cure for writer’s block is discipline and perseverance.
Schedule Regular Writing Intervals
The best solution is to treat a book project like a regular job. Writers should set aside a certain number of hours each week and make sure to be seated at their desks on time. By scheduling regular writing intervals in this way, writers can move past that fleeting “impulsive inspiration” toward a more lasting “thoughtful inspiration” and finish their books once and for all. Sometimes, when settling down to write, they may have no idea what they’re going to say—and that’s okay. It might take half an hour to get that first awkward sentence out and “unlock the floodgates” of creativity; but most authors are pleasantly surprised with how much they have at the end of the session. It’s because the intention to create is the very thing that attracts the creation. That’s the power of deliberate, thoughtful inspiration.
Set Target Dates
Another way for writers to stay on track is to set achievable but strict deadlines for themselves. Perhaps, in January, they might say, “I want the first draft of this book completed by the end of November.” From there, they should guesstimate how many pages the book will be and break down the number that must be written per month, per week, per writing session in order to meet that page-count goal. Then stick to that schedule. Keep that self-promise. Just as intention attracts creation, persistence builds momentum.
Read Regularly
The writers who spend even as little as half an hour per day reading another author’s work often find they are more creative during their own writing sessions. It doesn’t have to be another book; it can be an online article, magazine, newspaper, or blog. Sometimes the least likely source can inspire the greatest creativity. The most important point here is for writers to keep themselves open and aware of the infinite pool of ideas all around them. Whatever it takes to get that first sentence out. From there, thoughtful inspiration can—and will—take care of the rest.
This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today. 

How to Sell More Books Outside Bookstores

A Creative Idea to Help An Unknown Author’s Books Stand Out
In today’s competitive marketplace, authors need to “think outside the bookstore.” Sometimes placing a book with a non-traditional outlet will help it to stand out more.
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Books by J.K. Rowling get the prime real estate in a bookstore—right in the line of sight, in the highest traffic areas—because they are guaranteed to sell. Unfortunately, most unknown authors must compete for attention from an obscure shelf in a small section of the store. The only customers who might find their books are the ones specifically visiting that section and taking the time to browse it thoroughly. Understandably, this makes it difficult for the majority of newcomers to earn a decent profit from bookstore sales.
How Bookstore Retailing Works
To compound matters for new authors (self-publishers in particular), the majority of traditional bookstores will only buy titles marked as “returnable” by a publisher or distributor. This provides them with an out for any books that don’t sell. They can clear them off the shelf and return them for a full refund, making room for the fresh, new releases after a couple of months. Books are sometimes returned a bit scuffed or worn down, depending on how often they’ve been handled. At times, they even have the bookstores stickers still attached. Now authors are left with an unsaleable second-hand product and no royalties to show for it.
Bookstore sales work best in conjunction with an author signing because such an event allows authors and their books to appear front and centre if only for an afternoon. A lot of books can be moved this way, especially if the author is naturally social and willing to engage customers in conversation. The books are sold on a consignment basis by the bookstore which means no returns! Everyone wins! (Click here to read more details on how to set up a bookstore signing.)
How Chain Store Retailing Works

The rest of the time, it is wise to think outside the bookstore and consider another retail outlet altogether: gas stations; drug stores; department stores; mall kiosks; etc. The key is to stand out by being placed in as high-traffic an area as possible as this will attract new sales from impulse buyers who happen to be walking by. Why do you think grocery stores place chocolate bars and magazines at the front, right by the till? No one goes to a grocery store intending to buy chocolate bars and magazines. They go there for groceries. But everyone has to walk by the till … and, oh, those chocolate bars look good! Don’t they? And that story about so-and-so in Hollywood sounds pretty intriguing. Might as well pick up one of each! Authors can take advantage of human nature in much the same way grocery stores do.

Most large retailers require their merchandisers to obtain licensee liability insurance and fill out some paperwork before they will allow them to put up any displays. The same applies to authors. But this extra bit of effort may well prove lucrative in the end. If it takes a title from an obscure bookstore shelf and places it on a display rack facing a high-traffic aisle, it might just sell more copies. It’s definitely worth looking into.
This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today. 

What’s So Great About eBooks?

The Most Environmentally Friendly Books of Them All
Not long ago, the only option available to environmentally conscious book buyers was to check the inside of a paperback to ensure it was printed on FSC-certified paper. Now there’s another option that doesn’t require any paper at all: eBooks. This is good news for consumers and publishers alike.
The term “eBook” stands for “electronic book.” eBooks are the digital equivalent to conventional printed books and can be downloaded directly to a computer or hand-held eBook reading device in a matter of minutes. This technology enables consumers to purchase books from the comfort of their homes and offices without worrying about wasted paper or shipping/handling fees. It allows people to store several books in one keyword-searchable, lightweight container. Plus, it saves publishers (particularly self-publishers) from paying the expenses associated with printing, storage, distribution, and book returns. The benefits of this new technology are numerous!
There are several eBook file formats to choose from; and there are even more software programs and hardware devices designed to download and view them. To keep things simple, this article will focus on the three commonly used eBook formats that are available for publication through PPG:
1. PDF files (Adobe eBook Reader)
2. LIT files (Microsoft Reader)
3. PDB files (Palm Reader) 
.PDF (Adobe eBook Reader)
If writers want their eBooks to look identical to their printed books, a .PDF file is the way to go. The .PDF format preserves the original graphic design of each page regardless of which device is being used to view it. Another advantage here is that Adobe eBook Reader is available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems, on both desktops and laptops. (In fact, most of the standard eBook readers can read this form of eBook.)
.LIT (Microsoft Reader)
If writers feel it is important for their readers to be able to adjust font sizes, reflow text, and change their screen resolution at will, then the .LIT file format is a good choice. The Microsoft Reader software that works with an .LIT eBook is available for Windows operating systems on both desktop and laptop computers plus a special handheld device known as a Pocket PC.
.PDB (Palm Reader)
Palm Reader software combines the flexibility of Microsoft Reader (allows readers to adjust fonts, reflow text, and change screen resolution) with the adaptability of Adobe eBook Reader (has been adapted for use on both Windows and Macintosh operating systems, for both desktops and laptops, as well as Palm OS and Pocket PC handheld devices). The .PDB file format is the right choice for writers who value functionality ahead of graphic design and wish to reach a broader audience of readers.
Like PPG, some other Canadian book publishers already offer to produce eBooks along with conventional paperback books, and this is a step in the right direction. As the world evolves, all publishers (self-publishers included) must be willing to evolve along with it. Preserving our trees today will help to preserve the entire planet for tomorrow.
This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today. 

A Great Business Anniversary Gift Idea

Publish the History of Your Business to Celebrate Your Anniversary
It is an incredible feat to build a viable business in today’s marketplace. When you reach the next milestone, celebrate your achievements by self-publishing a book….
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A milestone business anniversary is not only a cause for celebration; it is a time for reflection. Most businesses celebrate and reflect by setting up interviews with the media and writing advertorials for the local daily newspaper. Why not take it a step further by self-publishing a business history book? It not only makes a great gift for valued staff and customers; it is also a unique way to generate incremental revenue.
Here are ten recommended steps to self-publishing a business history book in Canada:
1. Collecting Photos
Photographs are an essential part of any business history book, so companies should make sure to include as many good quality photos from throughout the years as possible. All colour photos should be submitted to a publisher/printer in either .jpg (.jpeg) or .tif (.tiff) format, with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI, using the CMYK colour model. Black and white photos should also be submitted in either .jpg (.jpeg) or .tif (.tiff) format with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI; however, for best results, they should be saved as grayscale/monochrome images rather than CMYK. Each file should be given a unique name that makes it easily identifiable to the graphic artists who are assigned to designing the book.
2. Writing a Business History Book
When it comes to writing a company’s history book, a professional ghostwriter can be hired to take care of it if there are no qualified writers on staff. Completed manuscripts should contain only basic formatting when they are submitted for publication:

Times New Roman font, 11 pt. size
Left-aligned text
Entire document double-spaced
Only hard returns in this document should be at the end of chapter titles and paragraphs
Insert a page break at the end of each section and/or chapter
Insert an additional page break where you want blank pages to appear
• Type “Insert image file name here” wherever you wish to see your electronic photo files inserted
• Italicize any words/phrases you wish to see italicized in the formatted version of your book
 Bold any words/phrases you wish to see bolded in the formatted version of your book
Underline any words/phrases you wish to see underlined in the formatted version of your book
The reasons for formatting a manuscript this way are discussed below.
3. Protecting Copyright
In Canada, authors own the copyright to their work as soon as they create it. There is no legal requirement to register it. Protecting copyright can be done in a very straightforward and cost-effective way. It’s as simple as sealing a copy of the completed work in an envelope and mailing it back to the business via registered mail. When the date-stamped package is returned, it should be kept sealed and stored in a fireproof container. This simple step provides date-stamped proof of ownership.
4. Choosing a Professional Supportive Self-Publishing Company
It is best for companies to work with a professional supportive self-publishing house for a project such as this: first and foremost, supported self-publishing allows companies to maintain copyright ownership of the work while having a team of qualified editors, designers, and proofreaders at their disposal to answer questions; and, secondly, the publishing portion of the project can be completed in less than six months from the time the written and photographic materials are submitted to the time the book is printed.
5. ISBN Numbers/Barcodes and Legal Deposits
“ISBN” stands for “International Standard Book Number.” An ISBN number is a unique 13-digit identifier for each edition of a book that is obtained from Library and Archives Canada (LAC). For example, the trade paperback version of a book will have one ISBN number, and the eBook version will have another. An ISBN number and corresponding barcode is only required if the book will be sold commercially. A supportive self-publishing company can take care of this detail for clients. Books that are assigned an ISBN number should be submitted to Legal Deposit at LAC by the self-publisher upon publication.
6. Editing
A professional copy editor‘s job is to enhance a story as it is and offer helpful suggestions that may have been overlooked or not considered at all. A second set of eyes will catch those unobvious errors—such as transposed words and letters, punctuation issues, or improper word usage—that writers are simply blind to after reading the same thing over and over again (and that electronic spell checks sometimes miss).
A company’s raw manuscript should be submitted to the supported self-publishing company in the format discussed in point 2. Writing a Business History Book. This clean format makes each paragraph easier to read and correct. The edited manuscript will then be returned to the business in the same raw format for final approval before being forwarded onto a graphic designer for professional formatting.
7. Interior and Cover Design
There is an obvious difference between covers created by human/mechanical template builders and the ones carefully crafted by experienced graphic designers. Hiring a qualified designer that has been hand-picked by a professional publishing house like PPG will ensure the business history book is given the royal treatment it deserves.
8. Fact Checking and Indexing
Non-fiction readers expect to see an index at the back of a book. They also trust all the information contained within the book is accurate. Hiring a professional fact checker will help to ensure all dates and facts are correct. Hiring a professional indexer will make certain the index is done right, too.
9. Proofreading
Companies should always request a hard proof of their business history books rather than relying on an electronic proof alone as the pages of a book look very different on a computer screen compared to how they look in print. A professional pr
 should be hired to do the following nine-point check:

the front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct
the back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct
headers and footers are accurate and correct
bad breaks are eliminated
text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout
margins and trim size all measure properly
spelling and punctuation is correct
spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
spelling and punctuation is correct

10. Printing Books
There are three primary printing options available to today’s self-publishers depending on how many copies of their books they wish to print: 
Traditional offset printing: best price for 1000+ copies
Modern digital printing: best price for 100 to 999 copies
Print-on-demand (POD): best price for one to 99 copies
It is wise to contact several printers in your area to obtain quotes for 50, 250, 500, 1000, and 2000 copies. The unit price quoted per each quantity requested will be a good indicator of what type of press is being used and where the printer can be competitive. Companies should keep this information on hand until they’ve decided how many books they will need, and then choose the appropriate printer at that time. The right supportive self-publishing company can help point companies in the right direction if they require additional support in this area.
This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010 

Related article: Canadian Book Publisher Helps Publish Town History Books
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today. 

Three Important Tips for Serious Self-Publishers

How to Ensure Your Book Emulates Trade Publisher Quality 
If you are serious about book publishing and want to present yourself to the public as a professional author, then there are three important things you must do….
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There seem to be a few book printers out there disguising themselves as book publishers these days. “Publish your book in just thirty days!” and “Publish your book for only $599!” seem to be popular search-engine catchphrases. While it is true that you can print a book in that timeframe for that cost, there is so much more to publishing it properly. Below are three crucial steps, leading up to the printing stage, that require a much greater investment of your time and money if you wish to produce a truly polished result. 

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Have Your Work Copy Edited By a Professional
The fact is, self-publishers’ books are competing in the marketplace with trade publishers’ books. Trade (traditional) publishers always have their books professionally edited. Always. This is why they can boast such high quality. In light of this, can self-publishers truly afford not to have their work edited? It may seem excessive to some, but it is a necessary investment if that author is serious about publishing and competing in the marketplace.
Make no mistake, not all copy editors are equal. Expect to pay a minimum of $0.025/word for a quality copy edit which equates to $750 on a 30,000 word manuscript. If you’re paying any less than that, bottom line, you’re not dealing with a professional. Time wise, you’re looking at two to four weeks for a copy edit to be completed correctly.
Hire an Expert to Design Your Book Cover and Interior
No matter how engaging your story may be, the public is going to “judge your book by its cover” before they ever decide to read it. As such, the graphic design of your book—both inside and out—should receive the same professional attention as the content itself.
Just as not all editors are equal, there is also a noticeable difference between a book designed by a human/mechanical template builder and one designed by a professional graphic artist. Expect to pay between $500 and $600 for your initial cover/interior combo. As long as your designer receives clear instructions and trouble-free files, you should receive your first draft within about two weeks.
A Qualified Proofreader Should Review Your Hard Proof
Always, always, always request a hard proof whenever you are publishing physical books. Electronic proofs are fine for e-books, but you might be surprised by just how different a page looks on a computer screen compared to how it looks in print. You’ll notice things on paper that you may not see in a .PDF file.
Not only should you give this hard proof a once-over yourself, but you should also hire a professional proofreader—a different set of eyes from your copy editor—to do the following nine-point check:
• the front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct
• the back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct
• headers and footers are accurate and correct
• bad breaks are eliminated
• text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout
• margins and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct
• spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct
Expect to pay a minimum of $0.015/word for a comprehensive proofread like this which comes to $450 on a 30,000 word manuscript. It should take around two weeks to complete.
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Now you’re ready to print your book … and revel in the gratification authors can only feel when, deep down, they know they did everything that was necessary to publish a high quality product.
This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today.