Category Archives: Book Reviews

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

Michael LaRocca of MichaelEdits.com

There are no rules to assure great writing, but there are ways to avoid bad writing.

That’s from the introduction to The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. It’s also the focus of the book.

Lukeman presents examples of what not to do. If you see something in them that reminds you of something you’ve written, then you know what you need to fix.

I feel like adding that you should be grateful to have something written and fixable. The empty page is the worst.

Anybody who’s been in this business a while has seen thousands of manuscripts from all over the world. Remarkably, writers everywhere are doing the same things wrong. If you read tweets and blogs from most editors, you see a whole lot of snark about it. But Lukeman decided to group these mistakes into categories, set forth definite criteria for rejecting manuscripts, and write one of the most helpful books I’ve ever laid my hands on. Hence this review.

Lukeman also acknowledges something I’ve been saying for years. We don’t always need five pages. We might shoot down a manuscript within the first five paragraphs. Does that sound cruel? Well…

Agents and editors don’t read manuscripts to enjoy them; they read solely with the goal of getting through the pile, solely with an eye to dismiss a manuscript — and believe me, they’ll look for any reason they can, down to the last letter.

I do this. By starting his introduction this way, he hooked me. Absolutely. I was reading to figure out why my work in progress wasn’t going so well. But once I found the answer, I didn’t put this book down. I enjoyed learning from all of it.

I could list his criteria, but that’d be kinda like stealing. Read the man’s book. I got mine at the library. If you can’t do that, Amazon comes to mind. So does my favorite, Better World Books.

People send me manuscripts, wanting me to evaluate them. I’ve told more than one author to go read The First Five Pages and then get back to me. Yeah, I’m turning work away, but that’s because some manuscripts require too much of it. Lukeman will teach you how to do that work yourself, if you’re willing to learn. If you’re a real author, you’ll enjoy learning. If not, that’s a valuable lesson too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to return to my regularly scheduled snarking.

Technical editing since 1991. Business editing since 2006. MichaelEdits.com

© Michael LaRocca 2017

[5 Crucial Tips for Authors] Selling Essentials by Claude Whitacre

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

Anyone who’s read my last three full-size books on publishing, sales, and marketing knows that I started my career with a small Canadian literary press straight out of college almost 25 years ago. After working there for three years, it was clear to me that there were no solid opportunities for advancement nor any real chance of a salary increase due to the fact that this press operated solely on government grants. Needless to say, I was forced to leave my job out of financial necessity and found a more prosperous position in advertising sales at the local daily newspaper. It was my reluctant beginning to a lifelong career as a salesperson. I hated sales back then. It felt so foreign to me.

Perhaps, if I’d read a copy of Claude Whitacre’s Selling Essentials: Your First 90 Days in Selling back then, I would have had an easier transition into the world of sales and would have enjoyed it that much more. That’s why I’m sharing my review of this book with you here. Because authors are entrepreneurs. Always have been. Always will be. If you want true commercial success as an author, you can have it. There’s proof of this everywhere these days (you can check out the guest posts on this blog for some real-world examples). You just have to learn how to sell.

I already know the reason for your initial resistance to selling, and so does Claude. Believe it or not, he and I both lean more toward the introverted side of the personality scale like so many other authors do … which may be hard to believe since we’ve both done something seemingly extroverted by placing our author pictures on the front covers of our books. (That literally makes me laugh out loud.) In any case, Claude sums up this initial resistance perfectly in this early excerpt from his book:

People say they cannot sell when they are doing it every day. It’s because they don’t want to do … what they think selling is. They don’t want to pressure people, misrepresent, abuse friendships, sell shoddy products and services. That’s what they don’t want to do. But selling isn’t any of those things.

As I read this book, I was pleased to learn that Claude and I both agree the best salespeople in this world are trustworthy and accountable. They do what they say they’re going to do. They tell the truth. They are reliable. They keep promises. They work hard for their customers. They are interested in understanding their customers’ needs first and then doing what they can to fill those needs in the most beneficial way for that customer. That’s what this book is about; and, although it’s tailored more toward the corporate sales environment, there’s a lot of information for authors to garner from Claude’s advice. Here are five crucial tips for authors in particular:

  1. The single biggest threat to your sales success is hanging around with the people who say it can’t be done.
    There is a lingering myth among aspiring (and some established) authors that the ultimate goal is to have one’s book “picked up” by a traditional trade publisher, not only for the associated recognition but also because of the belief that these publishers will sell your books for you … you won’t have to do any heavy lifting at all. In reality, to be a truly successful author you must treat book publishing, sales, and marketing as your own business. The same holds true whether you self-publish, take today’s hybrid (e.g., supported self-publishing) route, or sign with a traditional trade publisher. Hanging out with the “bitch and complainers” (or “losers” as Claude refers to them) in the corporate world will kill your sales potential because you’ll begin to take on their personalities and habits if you’re around them for too long. The same holds true in the book sales and marketing world. Do you want success as an author? Then you not only need to learn how to sell, but you need to surround yourself with those who are succeeding to keep reinforcing for yourself that it is possible to be successful. Here are two such authors for you to pay attention to: Timothy Ellis and Liz Schulte. You should also read Claude’s book.
  2. It’s not all about the price!
    Claude calls this a myth: everyone buys based on price; no one buys expensive products. Claude is absolutely right. No matter what it is that you’re selling, there is a time and a place for price-based selling and there is a time and a place for value-based selling. It all depends on your prospective buyers’ wants and needs as I discuss in many of my books. If you want to reach them, you need to speak to them in their language. You need to figure out what their needs are and sell to them rather than just assuming everyone only buys based on price.
  3. Here’s a great way to overcome your fear of rejection.
    Every aspiring author fears rejection. Every new salesperson fears rejection. Why? Because they’re taking certain things personally that aren’t personal at all. The way Claude helps new salespeople to realize this, during his sales seminars, is to ask 10 random people in the audience whether or not they like butterscotch. Usually, around half say yes and half say no. At that point, he poses a question to the entire room: “Do you feel any differently about the people who like butterscotch versus the ones who don’t?” Everyone says no, of course. Because it’s simply a choice they’ve made about a product—not a personal attack on the person who asked whether or not they like or want that product. What a great exercise! It truly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Keeping that in mind should make anyone feel better when they approach a new sales prospect whether they’re trying to sell a vacuum cleaner or a book.
  4. You need to measure your activities in relation to your sales to know how you’re doing.
    In most corporate sales jobs, your employer expects you to log your daily activities in some type of customer relationship management (CRM) tool such as Salesforce. It’s such a valuable practice that everyone should be doing, even if they don’t have an employer asking them to do it. Why? Because doing so tells you exactly where your sales are coming from and how long it takes for them to happen in relation to whatever sales activity (e.g., blogging, social media marketing, event marketing) you’ve done. When you know what’s working and what isn’t, you can tweak it. You can improve it.
  5. Start with just one push-up and, the next thing you know, you’ll have done 100.
    I always recommend authors to commit just one hour per day, six days per week, toward their book sales and marketing efforts. That’s it, that’s all. Why? Because everyone can commit an hour a day. Claude has another way of saying the same thing. He calls it his “one push-up theory” and here is how he describes it:
        Let’s say you want to start an exercise program. And that exercise program starts with
    push-ups. You work your way up to 100 push-ups a day. But today, you just don’t feel
    like doing 100 push-ups. What do you do? Do one push-up. That’s right. Just do one.
    Anyone can do a push-up. It takes you no effort at all.

    He goes on to say that it’s interesting how, once you’ve done that one push-up, you suddenly feel motivated to do a few more. So, you maybe do 10 or 20. Then that’s builds up a momentum. You’re already in position. Might as well do the remaining 80 or 90 push-ups. Sales works the same way. Just start. Just one hour. Just one push-up. Just start every single day, and you’ll see that momentum build.

I highly recommend you click on the above link and buy a copy of Claude’s book Selling Essentials: Your First 90 Days in Selling because there is so much more value in this book than the five crucial tips I’ve included here. You may find some additional tidbits that speak to you even more clearly than these.

It’s a small book, a fast read. I got through it in about two hours, so it won’t take up too much of your time. But it will be worth the read in terms of helping you to understand and feel so much more comfortable with your role as a salesperson.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Utilize Book Reviews to Increase Your Following

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Different types of book reviews are available to help authors sell more books: unpaid traditional book reviews, and paid online book reviews. Each has its own unique pros and cons. Both are effective tools that can be used by authors to sell more of their books.

UNPAID TRADITIONAL BOOK REVIEWS

A common custom among trade publishers that really should be adopted by self-publishing authors is making sure to send out a few complimentary copies of your book to various relevant book reviewers in your area. This is a great way to generate some extra publicity for your book. The upside is that these reviews are free of charge in the sense that your only cost is the copy of your book and the postage to send it; however, the downside is that you’re not guaranteed a review after sending it. It’s at the discretion of the reviewer.

Two types of unpaid traditional book reviews are available: one is the review that you send out ahead of time, known as an advance reading copy (ARC), to stir up interest in the book before publication; the other is a published review copy of the actual, final edited version of your book.

  • Advance Reading Copies (ARCs): These unfinished review copies can be printed and mailed out as hard copy galleys or emailed as .PDF files. It is important to ensure they are stamped with the words “Advance Reading Copy (ARC)” on the front cover, and possibly also on every few pages of the interior, to ensure that the reviewer understands the copy is unedited so he or she takes that into account.
  • Published Review Copies: When sending a final published review copy to an editor, whether mailed as a hard copy or emailed as a .PDF, make sure to stamp “Review Copy” on the front cover of the book so it cannot be resold for profit. This also ensures that it will get to the right person at the newspaper or magazine to which you’re sending it for review.
A prize endorsement of How to Publish a Bestselling Book in the highly respected Midwest Book Review!

A prize endorsement of How to Publish a Bestselling Book in the highly respected Midwest Book Review!

A great book review written by a highly respected reviewer within the literary community can do wonders to help boost your book sales in much the same way as other forms of publicity can. When shared via social media, a prize endorsement such as this can catch on as quickly as wildfire. It’s definitely worth the cost of a complimentary book or two.

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Bestselling Book ... and Sell it WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price!

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell it WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price!

PAID ONLINE BOOK REVIEWS

Paid online book reviews are a fantastic advertising tool for authors. They can aid you in your efforts to direct traffic to the storefront where your book is currently for sale, thereby increasing the chance of a sale. They can also provide you with relevant content that you can share via social media to further promote your book to your followers.

The upside to these types of reviews is that whereas you’re not guaranteed a review when you send a book to a traditional book reviewer, you are guaranteed a review when you pay for one from a non-traditional book reviewer. The downside is that you must pay for it.

A prize endorsement of Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors in MBR's Jim Cox Report!

A prize endorsement of Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors in MBR’s Jim Cox Report!

When completed by a reputable organization, these paid reviews are still unbiased reviews—which may be good or bad. Once the review is complete, you are given an opportunity to decline or approve it to be published online for all to see. If you decline it, you won’t get your money back; it simply won’t be shared publicly at your request. But if you approve it, it might be posted to that reviewer’s high-traffic website, posted to your book online, and/or shared with various wholesalers and retailers all around your country (and possibly other parts of world, depending on where you have the book reviewed).

A complimentary paid book review can boost your sales in much the same way a traditional review can. It is definitely worth the investment.

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Book in Canada ... and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Book in Canada … and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.