Category Archives: The Book Business

[Guest Blogging and Content Syndication] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

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

As I’ve discussed beforehand in a few of my books, the primary reason why blogging is so important is search engine optimization (SEO), which means to improve (optimize) your standing in the organic search results on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Think, for a minute, about when you use a search engine to find something. Where is the first place you look when the search results come up? The top and centre of the page? In addition, how many links are you willing to click through to find what you’re looking for? Maybe ten at the most? Maybe your eye will scan down that first page for something interesting; or, if you have the time, maybe you’ll dig a little deeper and look through the second or third page to see what comes up there. Statistically, most people will stay on the first page. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you (e.g., author name, book title) appear on that first page for as many of the major keywords that are associated with your genre/topic matter as possible. Regular and consistent blogging is one way to help you achieve this.

Two Types of Blogging Can Help You in Different Ways

First and foremost, you can write and post content to your own blog.  When it’s your own blog, you set your own content criteria and can say whatever you want. Your posts can be an obvious advertisement for your products, services, events, et cetera, if you choose; however, it’s important to always provide quality content to your subscribers. The information has to be useful to them if you want to keep them engaged and attract even more subscribers down the road. Blog entries improve your search engine ranking depending on one of the major criteria that search engines are looking for: quantity of posts. Google’s algorithm rewards more points to websites that post new and relevant content on a regular basis.

Secondly, you can post content to someone else’s website that matches well with their content criteria (e.g., you can post articles to an online publication such as EzineArticles.com, or you can guest post on someone else’s blog). The idea is to write several keyword-rich posts—relevant topic matter that contains the phrases your prospective readers will type into a search engine when they are looking for your type of book, and that also contains a link back to your own blog/website— and then share them with others via email and social media websites. Guest posts and online articles such as these will garner higher points for your own blog/website using two additional criteria the search engines are looking for: backlinks and traffic. Backlinks are clickable referrals from one relevant webpage (someone else’s blog or a high-traffic online publication) to another (your own blog). The more backlinks to your blog (and the more traffic that generates for your blog), the higher its point value will be in the eyes of a search engine. As such, the higher it will appear in the organic search results.

A Great Alternative to Guest Blogging: Content Syndication

In a perfect world, we would all have time to write and post fresh content on our own blog and someone else’s website every single day. If we did this, we would quickly see an increase in our traffic and search engine ranking as a result. But that’s not always possible, so a great way to keep one’s momentum going is through content syndication.

In a nutshell, you can offer previously posted content from your own blog to someone else’s high traffic site if it appears to be a great fit for them and you can show them the value in partnering with you in this way.  For more details regarding exactly how syndicating your content works, including how to write a syndication pitch letter to relevant online publications, I highly recommend you read this article by Ritika Puri: Content Syndication: The Definitive, Insider’s Guide. It is a well-written article that should answer all your questions.

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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.

[2017 MWG Conference] When Traditional and Contemporary Publishers Join Together

Afternoon break-out session with Kim Staflund at the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference: Mastering the Elevator Pitch

I had the opportunity to present two break-out sessions at the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference in Columbia, Missouri, this past weekend: a morning session on dealing with the fear of writing/publishing and an afternoon session on mastering the elevator pitch when selling your manuscript or book. In between time, I had the opportunity to sit in on other educational sessions presented by agents and writers who work within the traditional (trade) publishing sector: Jenny Goloboy presented “Writing the Query Letter” to the authors who were interested in obtaining an agent to help them land a traditional (trade) publishing deal; Tim Waggoner, author of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Kingsman: The Golden Circle presented an informative talk about novelization (which is turning a movie into a book as opposed to adapting a book for film).

There were also sessions from contemporary (hybrid) publishers similar to PPG as well as self-publishers. One of my favourites was a class about self-publishing by a highly successful independent author of paranormal romance novels named Liz Schulte who earns “six figures” per year from online book sales alone. (Liz has agreed to write a guest post on here for us in the very near future.) I was also inspired by our keynote speaker at the dinner that evening, Sheri Fink. She is also a successful independent author like Liz. Sheri held the number one best seller spot on Amazon for her children’s book titled The Little Rose for 60 weeks straight; and she, too, earns a six-figure income from online book sales and has agreed to write a guest post on here in the near future. Being surrounded by so much talent and creativity certainly inspires one to write! 

New friends and fellow writers/authors from the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference: Kim Staflund, Judy Ellsworth Giblin, and Linda Story Runnebaum

These are my people. If I didn’t already know that before, I know it now just based on how motivated I feel after spending time with them. Writers. Authors. Publishers. Agents. All of you. You’re my people.

I think what I admire most about how the Missouri Writers Guild set up this conference was that they brought together people from the traditional (trade) publishing sector along with contemporary (hybrid) publishers and self-publishers. Attendees could draw information and inspiration from both groups to get a fuller picture of this dynamic industry. This is so forward thinking. We need to be doing this type of thing in Canada. In fact, we need to be doing it everywhere. It’s time.

Enjoying a great visit with “my people” at the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference

It’s time the traditional publishing sector begins to accept and acknowledge the legitimacy of independent authorship as more and more authors such as Sheri Fink, Liz Schulte, and Mark Dawson prove what’s possible. It’s time to bring together the traditional (trade), contemporary (hybrid), and self-publishers at the writers’ conferences everywhere that have, up to now, been reserved for traditional talent alone.

I’m looking so forward to sharing the upcoming guest posts on this blog with you. I used to spend my time “preaching” about the importance of selling to every author I came across. Now I want to focus on sharing the possibilities of it. I want to inspire authors to take the necessary steps to improve their own sales, and so I’m in search of today’s entrepreneurial authors who can share their success stories and tips with you all. I’ve named three of those authors in today’s post. You’ll hear from two of them directly very soon. Stay tuned!

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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 Create Your Best Novel

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

Creating your best novel is a team effort. There is the writing portion which you will do on your own, within the solitude of your imagination and writing room. And then there is the “polishing” portion of the process which is equally important to your success and requires an outside team of professionals for best results.

Writing Your Novel

I’ll start by including one of my absolute favourite quotes about writing by Gary Provost:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? It’s like music, as he says. This is the kind of writing that will keep an audience engaged. It not only sings to them; but, with the right combination of vivid adjectives and visceral verbs, it can create such authentic, powerful imagery inside their minds that it keeps them turning the pages for more. That’s what you’re after.

And yet, there’s more to writing your best novel. Two more elements must be considered: character development and plot development. Here are two links that go into great detail regarding these two aspects of writing, so I encourage you to click on both and really take in this advice before sitting down to write your book:

Once your novel is written, now the rest of the team comes into play. The best advice I have for all writers—but especially the ones who plan to self-publish—is to get support. Invest in proper copy editing, graphic design, and proofreading. If you’re serious about book publishing and want to present yourself to the public as a professional author, then these things are so important to your end result.

Polishing Your Novel

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 copy edited in the very least? It may seem excessive to some, but it is a necessary investment if that author is serious about publishing and competing in the marketplace.

And 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. In fact, they’ll judge the interior, too. So, the graphic design of your book—both inside and out—should receive the same professional attention as the content itself. Hiring a professional graphic designer is always better than using a generic template builder.

Last but not least, I highly recommend you also hire a professional proofreader—a different set of eyes from your copy editor—to do the following nine-point check of the final designed book before you self-publish it anywhere:

Interior

• 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

Cover

• spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct

These are the steps the traditional (trade) publishers put each and every one of their books through. These are the steps you should also take to create your best novel. This extra attention to detail with make a huge difference in the public perception of your book and your overall success as a result.

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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.

[Email Marketing] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

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

In an earlier blog post, I discussed the concept of T-shaped marketing and how today’s authors are using it to sell more books online. To briefly recap, your deep knowledge/ability (the stem of the T) is the content you’ve written about in your book(s) whereas the flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various other creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s). Email marketing is one of the skills you can learn and use as part of your T-shaped marketing plan.

Books are perfect for email marketing. They go hand in hand. Why? Because email marketing is all about sharing, promoting, and selling information … and a book is an information product.

Here is a fantastic resource regarding email marketing (e.g., finding your perfect niche, setting up your opt-in page, getting email addresses, auto-responders, campaigns, statistics, you name it): The Circle of Profit by Anik Singal. It is a free .PDF that you can download, and it contains all the information you will ever need regarding how to run a successful email marketing business. I’ve read it three times, myself. I get something new out of it every time. That’s how detailed it is.

After reading this book, I adopted email marketing as part of my overall T-shaped marketing strategy. I think you should, too. And I’ll tell you why with this excerpt from Anik’s book:

Who do you trust more: a friend or a stranger? The answer is obvious: Your friend. And when your email list subscribers start seeing you more as a friend than some random person sending them emails, you’ll get the best response.

Email marketing allows you to reach people in a more direct and personal way than most other kinds of advertising and publicity can. This is your opportunity to really engage with your readers. Become their friend by letting them know a little more about you, the person, rather than just advertising your book(s) to them in an impersonal way. Spend some time getting to know them a little better, too, by replying to their emailed questions with thoughtful answers.

The readers who know and trust you will be your most responsive buyers each and every time you contact them to announce a new book. But this trust must be earned over time by providing quality, valuable content to your subscribers on a consistent basis so they stay engaged with you over the long term. Always remember there are no easy or quick fixes in the world of book sales and marketing.

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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.

The Elements of a Professional Book Cover

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

There are many different types of book covers ranging from case laminate or dust-jacketed hard covers to perfect bound paperbacks to ebooks. Although they each have their own unique requirements in content and design, some basic components are common to most books. Using this author’s own paperback books as examples, you can see that a complete book cover is made up of at least the following three components: the back cover, the spine, and the front cover.

Back Cover

As shown in the upcoming visual aid, the back cover portion of your complete book cover begins on the left-hand side. The dimension of the back cover must match whatever trim size you’ve chosen your book to be (i.e., 5.5 x 8.5 inches as shown in the examples) with a minimum 1/4-inch bleed around the outside edges for trimming. It will also contain the following features:

• An author photo (optional)
• Back cover copy (marketing copy that summarizes the contents of the book in a compelling way)
• Room for the book’s barcode and ISBN on the lower right-hand corner
• Room for the publisher’s logo on the lower left-hand corner
• A short author biography (optional)

Spine

The spine portion of your complete book cover sits in between your back and front cover. Its height will match your chosen trim size (in the case of these examples 8.5 inches), while the width is determined by factors such as the final page count of your designed interior and chosen weight of paper. The spine also contains the following features:

• The book title at the top
• Author name (pseudonym) in the centre
• Room for the publisher’s logo

Front Cover

The front cover portion of your complete book cover sits on the right-hand side. The dimension of the front cover must match whatever trim size you’ve chosen your book to be (i.e., 5.5 x 8.5 inches as shown in the examples) with a minimum 1/4-inch bleed around the outside edges for trimming. It will also contain the following features:

• The book title (and subtitle, if applicable)
• Author name (pseudonym)

Artwork

Your cover artwork can wrap around the spine of your book and span the entire height and width of the complete cover (as shown in the first visual for the book titled 11:11, 978-0-9864869-4-4 on Amazon); it can appear on the front cover only (as shown in the second visual for the book titled A Letter to My Son, 978-0-9864869-0-6 on Amazon); or it can be more complex (as shown in the third visual, on the following page, for the book titled A Letter to My Daughter, 978-0-9864869-2-0 on Amazon).

All of these examples are correct. If going with the first example, make sure the artwork itself contains a minimum 1/4-inch bleed all around the edges, so the outside edges of the picture aren’t trimmed unnecessarily at the printer. If going with the third example, keep in mind that additional graphics require additional work for the designer, which will equate to additional upfront costs for the self-publishing author.

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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.

The Elements of a Professional Book Interior

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

A book’s interior is comprised of three basic elements: front matter, the body, and back matter. Each element might differ slightly depending on the type of book being published. For example, a non-fiction book will contain an index in its back matter whereas a fictional novel will not. Following is a list a various components you might find within a book’s interior and what their respective purposes are:

The front matter of a book might contain some or all of the following components:

Primary title page: This is usually the very first page of the book in which the title appears on an otherwise blank right-hand page.

Secondary title page: The secondary title page repeats the book title along with the author and publisher’s name on the next right-hand page.

Copyright page: The copyright page will contain the book’s ISBN(s), publication date, copyright owner’s name, and a copyright notice such as, “No portion of this book may be duplicated or used in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) for any profit- driven enterprise without prior permission in writing from the publisher.” If the author also wishes to credit any of the book’s contributors (e.g., photographers and designers), that can also be done on this page.

Quote page: Sometimes a quote will be placed in the front matter if it sums up the essence of the story quite well.

Dedication page: Oftentimes, authors will dedicate their books to their loved ones. That dedication is placed in the beginning of the book.

Acknowledgments page: An acknowledgments page allows an author to provide more detail when crediting the book’s various contributors rather than just listing their names on the copyright page. Here, a heartfelt thank you can be expressed in a much more meaningful way.

Foreword: Usually, a foreword is written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to provide a history leading up to the story being told or explain what inspired the publication of the book.

Preface: Where a foreword is an introduction to the book written by someone other than the author, a preface is an introduction written by the author for the same purpose. An author might also use a preface to explain what methods of research were used during the creation of the work.

Contents: A table of contents lists the various sections (i.e., chapters, articles, poems, et cetera) within the book and that page numbers on which they begin.

The body of a book usually contains at least the following two components:

Title Pages: A title page is used at the beginning of each section within the body of a book. The purpose of the title page is simply to differentiate between the sections to help organize the flow of the work.

Sections: Sections of a book’s body can be divided up as chapters, poems, articles, et cetera. It all depends on the type of book being published.

The back matter of a book might contain some or all of the following components:

Appendix: An appendix contains supplementary details that help to clarify further any legal, technical, or scientific information within the book.

Bibliography (a.k.a. Citations): A bibliography is a list of the books, articles, webpages, et cetera, that were sourced and referred to throughout the book.

Glossary: A glossary of terms contains a list of specialized words that can be found throughout the book along with their definitions.

Index: An alphabetized index is used to help readers pinpoint the exact pages where they can find an important name, place, or subject throughout the book. (It provides a much more precise, defined search result than the table of contents at the front does.)

Promotional Content: A great way to sell your back list titles is to promote them in the back matter of each new release. It is best if you can provide a graphic of each book’s front cover along with the corresponding ISBNs. This way, readers can search for these back list titles online or at bookstores if they wish to purchase them.

Author Biography: An updated author biography helps personalize your book for readers by giving them a bit more information about the storyteller. It is also a great way to promote past titles, thereby increasing the chance of more sales.

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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.

Learn at Your Own Pace: Online Courses in Writing, Publishing, and Selling Books

Through Udemy‘s online learning portal, PPG can help you build on your book writing, publishing, and selling skills from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. Here are just four of the courses that can help you with every aspect of your next book project from start to finish:


ONLINE COURSE: Writing A Book: The First Draft


ONLINE COURSE: Writing With Flair: How To Become An Exceptional Writer


ONLINE COURSE: Self-Publishing Success in Bookstores and Online!


ONLINE COURSE: The A-Z Guide That Will Hold Your Hand To Making A
Career Through Blogging And Building A Successful Online Business

Check them out today. Just click on the above pictures to be redirected to the course landing page where you can enroll and start learning immediately. Good luck and enjoy.

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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.

[NOW AVAILABLE!] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

And it will be FREE OF CHARGE from March 22 through 26, 2017!
Click on the image below to pick up your copy TODAY!

Coming soon! Watch for it in the spring of 2017.

[Thinking Outside the Box] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

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

Online marketing—blogging, social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising—to name only a few kinds, provides today’s authors with a vehicle to reach a worldwide audience where, in the past, they were limited to their own backyards. But to make any kind of real headway in this crowded space full of millions of people doing the same thing as you’re doing online, you’ve got to think outside the box. You’ve got to figure out a way to stand out among the rest by combining analytical and creative skills together. I’m talking about T-shaped marketing.

I invite you to click on this link because it will bring you to a diagram that depicts the T-shaped marketing concept really well: The T-Shaped Web Marketer. To quote the author of this Moz blog entry: “T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few).” Your deep knowledge/ability (the stem of the T) is the content you’ve written about in your book(s) whereas the flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various other creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s).

Many of the most successful online companies of today used T-shaped marketing (also referred to as “growth hacking” which will be discussed in an upcoming blog entry) to grow their businesses when no venture capital was available to help them. AirBNB utilized Craigslist users as part of their growth hacking strategy. PayPal paid people for referrals. DropBox gave people extra storage for referrals. There are many more examples of this, as well.

I believe authors can do the same thing as these companies did to really put themselves and their books on the map. If you have any doubts about that, I invite you to read this online Forbes article: Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer. Mark Dawson was first trade published. But when he saw how few copies his trade publisher sold for him, he switched to self-publishing for his next book and learned how to become an entrepreneurial author instead of a mere trade published author. This is T-shaped marketing at its best.

I hope today’s blog entry will whet your appetite enough to join me again for the next one. I’ll be talking about growth hacking in a bit more detail when we meet each other again.

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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.